New Tech: Ghostly Quantum Plastic That Flows Through Itself

Qi_0 Quantum plastic is one of the weirdest things predicted by quantum mechanics: a solid that flows, ghostlike, through itself. But experiments that claim to have made this "supersolid" may in fact have resulted in something completely different.

"We still do not understand the phenomenon. It's something new," says John Reppy, of Cornell University, one of the world's leading experts in quantum properties of superfluids, in an interview with New Scientists, who claims to have glimpsed the new effect, dubbed quantum plasticity.

In a solid, atoms are bound together in a regular lattice, keeping their structure rigid under normal circumstances. But at certain temperatures supersolidity is thought to kick in. Cool some solids close to absolute zero, and they should become frictionless and flow like a liquid, while retaining their lattice structure.

Casey Kazan via newscientist.com

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