Bose-Einstein condensate created at room temperature

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2013-02-06

Aluminum-Nitrogen nanowires, relatives of the ones used in these experiments.

Bose-Einstein condensation is a dramatic phenomenon in which many particles act as though they were a single entity. The first Bose-Einstein condensate produced in the laboratory used rubidium atoms at very cold temperatures—work that was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in physics. Other materials, like superconductors, exhibit similar behavior through particle interactions.

These systems typically require temperatures near absolute zero. But Ayan Das and colleagues have now used a nanoscale wire to produce an excitation known as a polariton. These polaritons formed a Bose-Einstein condensate at room temperature, potentially opening up a new avenue for studying systems that otherwise require expensive cooling and trapping.

Bosons are part of a large class of particles that can have the same quantum configuration or state. This is in contrast to the fermions, the category including electrons, protons, and neutrons, which resist having the same state. (This resistance, known as the Pauli exclusion principle, leads to the presence of different energy states, or orbitals, occupied by the electrons of atoms.) At extremely low temperatures, bosons can coalesce into a single quantum system known as a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), named for Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein.

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