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Press Release 05-104

MIT Group Creates a High-Temperature Superfluid

Vortices in rotating superfluids

The vortices observed in three rotating superfluids superimposed on the eye of a hurricane
Credit and Larger Version

June 22, 2005

Physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created the first example of a high-temperature superfluid: a new state of matter in which the atoms in a gas can move with no friction or slowing down whatsoever.

Reported in the June 23 issue of journal Nature, the work is closely related to the superconductivity of electrons in metals. According to Wolfgang Ketterle, the Nobel laureate who heads the MIT group, observations of superfluids may help solve lingering questions about high-temperature superconductivity, which has widespread applications for magnets, sensors and energy efficient transport of electricity.

"In superfluids, as well as in superconductors, particles move in lockstep," explains Ketterle. "They form one big quantum-mechanical wave." Such a movement allows superconductors to carry electrical currents without resistance.

The MIT research was carried out at the MIT-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and received direct support from NSF, the Office of Naval Research, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Army Research Office.

For more information, see the MIT news release.


Media Contacts
Elizabeth A. Thomson, MIT, 617-258-5402,
M. Mitchell Waldrop, NSF, (703) 292-7752,

Principal Investigators
Wolfgang Ketterle, MIT, 617-253-6815,

Related Websites
Center for Ultracold Atoms:
Wolfgang Ketterle and Dave Pritchard Group at MIT:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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