News & AnalysisCondensed-Matter Physics

Supersolidity Shot Down by Its Own Discoverer

Science  05 Oct 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6103, pp. 25-26
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6103.25

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Summary

The complicated mystery of supersolidity appears to be coming to an end, and it's not the thrilling climax that many physicists had hoped for. It now appears that the bizarre phenomenon—in which ultracold, highly pressurized solid helium supposedly flows through itself like a liquid without any viscosity—simply doesn't exist, physicists say. Instead, nearly all the supposed signs of supersolidity seem to have a more mundane explanation. Ironically, the data that may mark the end of the story come from the same physicist who reported the first signs of the phenomenon.