News of the WeekCondensed-Matter Physics

Evidence for Free-Flowing Supersolid Slipping Away?

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Science  02 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5987, pp. 20
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5987.20

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Six years ago, frigid solid helium set the world of condensed-matter physics afire when one team found that at temperatures near absolute zero the stuff appears to flow like a liquid without any viscosity. Physicists have since debated how such "supersolidity" might come about, or whether it even exists. Now, an experiment calls into question the first, best evidence for supersolidity. What physicists took as a sign of resistance-free flow at very low temperatures is in fact a manifestation of an odd softening of the solid at slightly higher temperatures, says the author of the work.