A Stanford team announced that it has created the world’s first dipolar quantum fermionic gas from the metal dysprosium. The team heated particles in a crucible to around 1,300 degrees Celsius and shot them into a powerful vacuum. Using a continuous-wave blue laser, the particles were then cooled to within a thousandth of a degree of absolute zero. Subsequent lasers and an evaporative cooling process eventually brought the gas down to the experimental temperature of 64 nanokelvin.
The result is a tiny ball of ultracold quantum dipolar fluid that the researchers believe will exhibit the seemingly contradictory characteristics of both crystals and superfluids. This could lead to quantum liquid crystals or quantum-mechanical versions of the liquid crystals that make up most electronic displays. Making the material out of a gas of atoms allows researchers to see zero-viscosity fluids, which are mathematical cousins of superconductors.