May 28, 2023


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A liquid turns into a solid when the temperature rises. How do we explain that?

This turns into a solid if heated, which seems unexpected. But are you sure? Francesca Ferlaino and Thomas Pohl and their collaborators show that in the quantum realm some things look a little different than we might expect.

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Team members were particularly interested in so-called supersolids, that is, spatially ordered materials with superfluid properties. It exhibits solid and superfluid properties. A few years ago, this state could be demonstrated in very cold quantum gases.

As Ferlaino, who was also involved in the research at the time, explains, the data collected suggest that increasing temperature favors the formation of superhard structures. The researcher added that the observed behavior was an important motivation for a theory that had not previously been concerned with temperature fluctuations in this context.

Several years ago it was believed that heating a quantum liquid could lead to the formation of a quantum crystal

Now, just a few years after the original experiments, scientists from Denmark and Austria present their new findings in this paper Nature Communications. The theoretical model they developed appears to confirm the hypothesis that heating a quantum liquid can lead to the formation of a quantum crystal. From theoretical models, it has been inferred that higher temperatures facilitate the formation of these structures.

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Using this new model, the researchers created a Phase I diagram that shows the formation of supersolids as a function of temperature. And although, as mentioned at the beginning, this seems inconsistent with what is observed on a daily basis, this phenomenon is a consequence of the anisotropic nature of the dipole-dipole interaction of the strong magnetic dysprosium atoms. With further research advances, a better understanding of the supersolid states of matter should be possible.

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