Ooh, look at the pretty fermionic condensate!

A new form of matter, huh? Typical, you wait for ages, then… actually, come to think of it, Bose-Einstein Condensates were a while back.

This is interesting stuff, a sort of ‘best of both’ of a BEC and a Cooper Pair. As I recall (and it’s been a decade, so cut me some slack here…), a BEC is akin to superfluid helium, where mass numbers of particles occupy the same quantum state thanks to their not being subject to Pauli exclusion. In superfluid helium, this results in interesting properties like zero viscosity. Cooper Pairs I only touched on (but hey, at the time, the course was the only undergrad superconductors course in the UK…): surprisingly long-range ‘pairing’ of fermions (electrons; subject to Pauli exclusion – ie. not able to occupy the same quantum state) to form sort-of surrogate bosons, which can then all behave in a Bose-Einstein sort of stylee. The analogy being that ‘Cooper Pairs’ lead to zero electrical resistance just as condensed bosons lead to zero viscosity.

If memory serves, in 1994 it wasn’t quite clear that the analogy had any validity, but it was a nice idea. It looks, from this brief report, that it might: I’m certainly gobsmacked that atoms (nuclei?) can behave in a Cooper Pair-like manner, whatever temperature they’re at.

It’s also worth noting that this is already being misreported. I first saw mention on Slashdot, who’s submittor has taken two disconnected parts of the release and conflated them to report that the scientists predict “‘room-temperature solid” superconductors.’ Not in the Yahoo story, they don’t. It’s a reasonable extension, but it’s not what the report actually says.

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