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Tag archives: polariton

A new type of superfluidity?

polaritons.jpg

By James Dacey

Have you come across new research, utterly failed to realise its significance, then the penny drops shortly afterwards? Well it happened to me this week. On Monday, I stumbled across a new research paper in Nature about the behaviour of quasi-particles in a semiconductor and quickly dismissed it as niche physics. However – a little sniffing around the edges and a few phone-calls-to-experts later – I’m beginning to realise the significance this paper may hold for our understanding of Bose-Einstein condensates and superfluidity.

The research in a nutshell: a group of physicists led by Alberto Amo of Madrid’s Autonomous University have observed polaritons — quasiparticles merging photons with excitons — travelling without resistance in a semiconductor microcavity; thus behaving like a superfluid; thus potentially being the first Bose-Einstein condensate in a system out-of-equilibrium.

But I think the research still needs some historical context…

Bose-Einstein condensation was first predicted back in 1925 when Einstein — building on the work of Satyendra Nath Bose — predicted that when weakly interacting atoms are cold enough they drop into their ground state and the individual waveforms merge to create a single quantum state.

(more…)

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