A team of researchers from the University of Tokyo in Japan has managed a world first: creating a superconductor from the fifth state of matter, or the Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). Superconductors are materials that allow electricity to flow without any resistance, and could prove to be hugely beneficial for the future of electronics.
The well-known states of matter are liquids, solids, and gases, then come plasmas. The lesser-known of them all are BECs, which happen when you cool a gas of bosons down to the coldest temperature possible.
At that point, researchers have shown that quantum phenomena can be noticed at macro scales. “A BEC is a unique state of matter as it is not made from particles, but rather waves,” said Kozo Okazaki, lead author of the study. “As they cool down to near absolute zero, the atoms of certain materials become smeared out over space. The resulting matter behaves like it’s one single entity with new properties the preceding solid, liquid or gas states lacked,” Okazaki continued.
Now, the team has demonstrated that it’s possible to create superconductivity in a BEC—something that has never been confirmed in other experiments. The team managed this by making a BEC out of a cloud of iron and selenium atoms. And the main part of the discovery happened thanks to an overlap with a similar form of matter known as a Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) regime.
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