A long-sought new form of matter has been created for the first time. The matter, called a fermionic condensate, consists of atoms that are ordinarily forbidden to exist in the same quantum state but have been tricked into it by linking into pairs.

It occupies the middle ground between loosely linked particles that form superconductors and tightly bound ones in Bose-Einstein condensates, another exotic form of matter produced fleetingly since 1995. The creation of the new condensate is considered the crucial first step toward producing superconductors that work at room temperatures.

“This is a tremendous success,” says Keith Burnett, a physicist at Oxford University, UK. The University of Colorado researchers who accomplished the feat are “fantastic experimentalists”, he says, adding that scientists around the world have been racing to overcome the technical challenges of creating the matter.

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