Water, steam and ice cubes. Of all the states of matter, these three (liquid, gas, and solid) are the easiest to understand. Above all, because we have them at hand. Plasma (when a gas gets so hot that the constituents of the atoms themselves separate and become an ultra-hot chaos of subatomic particles) is also fairly well known, but its nemesis physical, the Bose-Einstein condensate is, however, almost unknown in popular culture.

In this state of matter is where a team of researchers from the University of Tokyo have found a new type of superconductivity that, until now, was only theoretical.

Towards a new theory of superconductivity


Bose-Einstein condensate? Generally speaking, a BEC is a state of matter that “forms when a boson gas cools near absolute zero.” At that very low temperature the atoms “become a single entity with quantum properties.” As Kozo Okazaki of the University of Tokyo points out, “the resulting matter behaves as a single entity with new properties that previous solid, liquid or gaseous states, such as superconduction, lacked.”

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What happens is that, as Okazaki also tells us, “Until recently, superconducting BECs were purely theoretical, but now we have demonstrated this in the laboratory with a novel material based on iron and selenium.” It is the first time that a BEC has been verified experimentally as a superconductor. In other words, it is the first time that it has been proven that an electrical circuit loses its resistance and becomes extremely efficient under these conditions.

Isn’t this the superconductivity of all life? Not quite. It is true that superconductors often work at very low temperatures, but in cases such as those drawn by the BCS (Bardeen-Cooper-Shrieffer) theory, what happens is that the atoms slow down and align themselves, making it easier for the electrons to circulate rapidly. That is, beyond insanely high temperatures, they do not have much to do with it.

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Midpoint For this reason, many researchers have reflected on the need to find intermediate points between the two approaches in order to find a global understanding of superconductivity. In this sense, Okazaki explains that “demonstrating the superconductivity of BECs was a means to an end; we really hoped to explore the overlap between BEC and BCS.”

And they have succeeded. The work suggests that there is “a smooth transition between these two great modes of superconductivity.” In the end, what they were looking for was an experimental basis that would allow us to think “a more general underlying theory behind superconduction.” Said and done. Now the most important thing remains, to build that new vision and see where it takes us.

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Source : Engadget