New research published this week in the journal Nature Physics reveals that light can behave in an even stranger "superliquid" state, in which light particles flow around objects with no friction or viscosity at all. In this state, light exhibits the dramatic effect of "frictionless flow," bending around obstacles with no ripples or swirls whatsoever. Interestingly, this effect can be observed at room temperature and ambient pressure.
"The extraordinary observation in our work is that we have demonstrated that superfluidity can also occur at room-temperature, under ambient conditions, using light-matter particles called polaritons," said Daniele Sanvitto, who led the research group.
As to the practical effects of the discovery, the most readily evident benefit concerns superconducting materials that can move electricity around with virtually zero resistance, according to the research team. Typically, these materials need to be radically cooled, usually with liquid nitrogen. If engineers can find a way to harness superfluidity at room temperature, it could lead to new and improved photonic devices like lasers, LEDs, solar panels, and photovoltaic cells.