OK, so it’s not because they were actually bored, but because they’re searching for one of the Holy Grails of science: a room-temperature superconductor. This new matter isn’t it as it still requires being chilled to billionth of a degree Celsius above absolute zero, but it’s closer and could lead to a room-temperature superconductor.
The new matter form is called a fermionic condensate and it is the sixth known form of matter—after gases, solids, liquids, plasma and a Bose-Einstein condensate, created only in 1995.
“What we’ve done is create this new exotic form of matter,” Deborah Jin, a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s joint lab with the University of Colorado, who led the study, told a news conference.
“It is a scientific breakthrough in providing a new type of quantum mechanical behavior,” added Jin.
Jin and her colleagues’ cloud of supercooled potassium atoms is one step closer to an everyday, usable superconductor—a material that conducts electricity without losing any of its energy.
“It is related to a Bose-Einstein condensate,” Jin said. “It’s not a superconductor but it is really something in between these two that may help us in science link these two interesting behaviors.”
As the article notes, this isn’t a first in the way of new forms of matter being made by scientists. Who knows? Perhaps that silly device on Star Drek that creates whatever the user wants out of thin air isn’t so far fetched after all.