PerspectivePhysics

A Glassy State of Supersolid Helium

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Science  01 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5927, pp. 601-602
DOI: 10.1126/science.1172973

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Summary

Superfluid helium is best known for its ability to flow without resistance. Superfluids also differ from ordinary fluids in that they fail to respond to a slow steady rotation (1). The atoms in a superfluid are in the same quantum state, so they move coherently and cannot gradually “spin up,” as does water in a rotated container. An intriguing question is whether a supersolid—formed by applying pressure to a superfluid—could combine these remarkable properties, quantum coherence and dissipationless mass flow of atoms, in a solid that still has structural order and rigidity (14).