A Quantum Discovery Beyond the Laws of Matter

  • By Jennifer Zheng
  • 14 September 2021

Vincent Liu and his international team of researchers recently published a paper in Nature reporting the creation of a stable material that attains long-sought-after quantum properties. This superfluid, a material under extreme conditions where the typical laws of matter break down and friction disappears entirely, was created by shining lasers in a honeycomb pattern and coercing atoms to interact with each other in strange ways. 

The team’s experiment required a great deal of balance and finesse. The atoms had to be kept at a temperature of around one ten-millionth of a degree above absolute zero despite the heat of the lasers. When cooling the material, the team used evaporation, causing warm atoms to fly off while ensuring that enough atoms remained to achieve the right density. But by combining just the right conditions, the team was able to create a much-sought-after topological superfluid needed to create next-generation quantum computers. 

Though the use of atoms would make an impractically slow quantum computer, this discovery will likely be most useful for studying the finer points of how that technology might work and helping researchers design quantum computers that can handle fast calculations.

Congrats Vincent!