Scientists make breakthrough in understanding new state of matter

December 6th, 2007 - 6:06 pm ICT by admin  

London, Dec 6(ANI): Researchers at the University of Alberta have made a remarkable advancement in the understanding of what they call a new state of matter or supersolidity.

The research led by Prof. John Beamish, chair of the Department of Physics, and PhD student James Day revealed that helium gas, after being heated over low temperature turns into a liquid.

And when put over extreme pressure the liquid turns into a solid.

Physicists have been manipulating solid helium so they can study its unusual behaviour.

Supersolidity was discovered in 2004 by a research team at Penn State University in the United States, led by Dr. Moses Chan.

The team made the discovery by cooling solid helium to an extremely low temperature and oscillating the material at different speeds.

They found that the particles behaved in a way not seen before, which suggested it might show the perpetual flow seen in superfluids like liquid helium.

However, Day and Dr. Beamish took this research into a different direction.

They cooled the solid helium and manipulated the material another way by trimming it elastically.

They found that the solid behaved in an entirely new and unexpected way and was much stiffer at the lowest temperatures. The shear modulus of solid helium increases by 20pct when it is cooled below 0.25K.

Dr. Chan termed the results as remarkable.

Furthermore, the temperature dependence of the shear modulus seems to track the period change seen in torsional oscillator. It seems the two phenomena are related and probably have the same mechanical origin, Nature quoted Dr. Chan, as saying.

This is an important breakthrough since the original discovery, he added.

The study will be published in the science journal Nature. (ANI)

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