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Ultracold Bubbles on Space Station: New Quantum Research Experiments With an Exotic State of Matter


Manwon Lender
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Produced inside NASA’s Cold Atom Lab, the ultracold bubbles provide new opportunities to experiment with an exotic state of matter.

Since the days of NASA’s Apollo program, astronauts have documented (and contended with) how liquids like water behave differently in microgravity (see video below) than they do on Earth – coalescing into floating spheres instead of bottom-heavy droplets. Now, researchers have demonstrated this effect with a much more exotic material: gas cooled to nearly absolute zero (minus 459 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 273 degrees Celsius), the lowest temperature matter can reach.

Using NASA’s Cold Atom Lab, the first-ever quantum physics facility aboard the International Space Station (ISS), researchers took samples of atoms cooled to within a millionth of a degree above absolute zero and shaped them into extremely thin, hollow spheres. The cold gas starts out in a small, round blob, like an egg yolk, and is sculpted into something more like a thin eggshell. On Earth, similar attempts fall flat: The atoms pool downward, forming something closer in shape to a contact lens than a bubble

https://scitechdaily.com/ultracold-bubbles-on-space-station-new-quantum-research-experiments-with-an-exotic-state-of-matter/

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