super solids — bizarre quantum solids that flow effortlessly, as they have no friction — have come back into the limelight. The first claim to have made one, in 2004, was cast into doubt in June this year by experimental results suggesting that effects attributed to supersolidity might actually result from a different quantum phenomenon.
Michael Ray and Robert Hallock, condensed-matter physicists at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, report that at low temperatures, atoms of fluid helium-4 can flow through a chamber filled with solid helium-45. As torsional oscillator experiments produce evidence for the disappearance of friction, but not directly for flow, Chan says that until this experiment, there was no evidence that there could be flow in solid helium.
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