For years, it’s been known that light takes the form of waves where it erupts from one source and is in turn reflected or absorbed into a surface, illuminating it in the process. However recently it’s been discovered by scientists that light can also be in liquid form, flowing around objects.

A research group in from CNR NANOTEC of Lecce in Italy, has teamed up with Polytechnique Montreal in Canada to uncover details about this phenomenon.

Light turns into a state called superfluidity where it shows frictionless flow through any obstacles. Previously superfluidity was discovered under extreme conditions where these particles were formed at temperatures close to zero and only for a fraction of a second.

The matter of this liquid light is described as a matter that is both superfluid and of ‘Bose-Einstein condensate’- sometimes called the fifth state of matter allowing light to flow around objects.

In this study, the leader of the research team, Daniele Sanvitto states that “superfluidity can also occur at room-temperature, under ambient conditions, using light-matter particles called polaritons”

“Under normal conditions, a fluid ripples and whirls around anything that interferes with its flow. In a superfluid, this turbulence is suppressed around obstacles, causing the flow to continue on its way unaltered”. says Stéphane Kéna-Cohen from École Polytechnique de Montreal in Canada.

The flow of polaritons encounters an obstacle in the supersonic (top) and superfluid (bottom) regime. Credit: Polytechnique Montreal

The team talks about how the observation of this effect under ambient condition will pave the way for a lot of future research that will not just be in relation to Bose-Einstein condensates with experiments but also designing superfluid based devices.

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