Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Watching a gas turn superfluid - MIT News Office

Watching a gas turn superfluid - MIT News Office: Think of the trap as a valley filled with fog: In the upper regions, one would encounter less dense regions of fog, while down in the valley the fog gets denser. By measuring three quantities — the gas density at a given height line, its change from one line to the next and the total amount of gas encountered on the way down to that height — the researchers could determine the equation of state of their gas of fermions.

The atoms in these gases interact very strongly, not unlike the electrons in high-temperature superconductors. The exact mechanism for superconductivity is not yet understood, and so far, physicists have not been able to predict materials that would become superconducting at room temperature. The MIT team has now measured the critical temperature for superfluidity in their atomic Fermi gas and shown that scaled to the density of electrons in a metal, superfluidity would occur far above room temperature.

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