Created the 2D supersolid, an almost magical material

The peculiarity is that it can have a crystalline structure and at the same time be superfluid. After decades of attempts, the strange elaborate has been realized by the research group of the Austrian University of Innsbruck led by Italian Francesca Ferlaino.

It took decades of research and unsuccessful attempts, but finally the first supersolid  in 2D has been realized, an almost magical material made by exploiting quantum oddities. The elaborate has simultaneously the properties of a solid and those of a superfluid and was created by the research group of the Austrian University of Innsbruck led by Italian Francesca Ferlaino. The results of the study have been published in the journal Nature. The existence of supersolid states of matter had been hypothesized since the '50s.

The characteristics and the creation of 2D supersolid

The peculiarity of these supersolids is that under certain conditions a material can have a crystalline structure, and therefore be solid, and at the same time can be superfluid, that is not generate any friction, theoretically a superfluid material can slip endlessly. Since the 1950s, dozens of groups of researchers have tried to turn these only theoretically predicted behaviors into reality. In 2019, three different groups, including one from the Pisa National Institute of Optics of the National Research Council (CNR-Ino), had succeeded but only with single 'droplets', in a single dimension. Instead, Ferlaino's group managed to arrange so many droplets to form a two-dimensional lattice, an ordered structure like a crystal but expressing all the bizarre quantum behaviors expected.

Based on the insight that led to the creation of the material is the fact that, in the quantum world, "localization," that is, that a particle exists at a specific point, is lacking. "Normally you would think that each atom is in a specific droplet, with no possibility of exchanging with others," explained Matthew Norcia, one of the group's researchers. "However, in the supersolid state," he added, "each particle is delocalized in all droplets i.e. they exist simultaneously in each droplet. The bizarre behaviors existing on a quantum scale, within the scenario built by the researchers, allowed the supersolid behavior to emerge at all points and at the same time. The experiment done by the Swiss researchers would open the door to new perspectives in the world of research. According to Ferlaino, it could help understand "how 'vortices' are formed in the voids that exist between neighboring droplets."

Retaining in the world of physics, a team of scientists has instead managed to weigh black holes.

Stefania Bernardini