Ithaca NY (SPX) May 17, 2011
In a four-decade, Holy Grail-like quest to fully understand what it means to be in a "supersolid" state, physicists have found that supersolid isn't always super solid. In other words, this exotic state of frozen helium appears to have liquid-like properties, says a new paper published in the journal Science.
Why is this important? Understanding supersolid helium brings us closer to understanding its close cousins superconductivity and superfluidity.
Physicists had long thought that the unusual behavior of torsion oscillators containing solid helium meant that chilling helium down to temperatures near absolute zero prompts its transformation into a supersolid. It is certainly solid, but in this physical quest, there was a nagging question: Is it a true supersolid?
To gain new perspectives on solid helium, new research tools were needed. "Think of this analogy: when Galileo first peered through a telescope, he saw ears on Saturn. With improved technology, humanity began to understand those ears were actually rings around the planet. And with better technology, we saw the differences in the rings.
To further understand solid helium, science had to invent new approaches," says Seamus Davis, Cornell professor of physics. "Helium is a pure material. We're gaining a new understanding of the fundamental issues of how nature works, of how the universe works."
In fact, in this paper, the researchers show instead a more prosaic explanation: There are moving defects in the solid helium crystals, and their relaxation time falls with rising temperatures. This is more consistent with the torsional oscillation (shaking) experiments conducted at Cornell.
The researchers learned that the unusual properties of solid helium do not reflect a clunky transition between the solid state and a supersolid state. It behaves like a dimmer switch and presents a smooth transition near absolute zero.
The research, "Interplay of Rotational, Relaxational, and Shear Dynamics in Solid 4He," is reported in Science (May 13, 2011). The lead authors are Ethan Pratt, Cornell Ph.D. '10, post-doctoral researcher at Cornell and Ben Hunt, Cornell Ph.D. '09, currently at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The other authors are Seamus Davis, the J.G. White Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences at Cornell, and graduate student Vikram Gadagkar; Alexander Balatsky and Matthias Graf, Los Alamos National Laboratory; and Minoru Yamashita at Kyoto University.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Space Technology News - Applications and Research
Boston MA (SPX) May 17, 2011
Getting two fluids to mix in small or confined spaces is a big problem in many industries where, for instance, the introduction of one fluid can help extract another - like water pumped underground can release oil trapped in porous rock - or where the mixing of liquids is the essential point of the process. A key example of the latter is microfluidics technology, which allows for the controlled ... read more
How to control complex networks|
Video gaming teens sleep less: study
Mixing fluids efficiently in confined spaces: Let the fingers do the working
When is it worth the cost of remanufacturing
Northrop Grumman Awarded Contract to Develop EHF SatComms Antenna for B-2 Bomber
Lockheed Martin To Produce Equipment For US Army Tactical On-The-Move Network
Emirates lofts satellite to boost military
LockMart Battle Command System Replaces US Army Legacy System
ST-2's installation on SYLDA marks the start of final payload integration for Ariane 5's next mission
Arianespace to launch ABS-2 in 2013
GSAT-8 put through its paces
Ariane Ariane 5 enjoys second successful launch for 2011
Europe's first EGNOS airport to guide down giant Beluga aircraft
'Green' GPS saves fuel, energy
Apple update fixes iPhone tracking "bugs"
Russia, Sweden to boost space cooperation
Solar plane makes 13-hour flight
Swiss solar aircraft makes first international flight
China Southern Airlines unit buys six Boeing 787s
Successful advanced JAXA drop test performed at Esrange Space Center
Graphene optical modulators could lead to ultrafast communications
Pentagonal tiles pave the way towards organic electronics
NRL Scientists Achieve High Temperature Milestone in Silicon Spintronics
Intel chip breakthrough a boon for mobile gadgets
ESA's water mission keeps tabs on dry spring soils
Aquarius to Illuminate Links Between Salt and Climate
Mississippi Flooding Captured by NASA Satellites
India's new satellite beams high quality images
Indian government vows to pursue Bhopal case
India's top court refuses to reopen Bhopal case
The skinny on how shed skin reduces indoor air pollution
Italian soldiers start clearing Naples garbage
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|