WELLINGTON, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand physicists on Thursday welcomed news that German scientists had confirmed their pioneering theoretical work on gas "droplets," saying it would lead to further scientific breakthroughs.
University of Otago physics researchers earlier this year published the theory that under certain conditions gases could form into stable droplets - as liquids do - and that had now been confirmed experimentally by scientists in Germany.
The new ability to produce gas droplets was exciting as it opened the door to a range of potential applications, said Professor Blair Blakie, who led the team developing the theory.
"These droplets could, for example, form pristine nano-laboratories for performing chemistry reactions or making highly precise measurements of magnetic fields," Blakie said in a statement.
It had been a longstanding question as to whether it is possible to make a gas self-bind in the same way that water molecules coalesced into stable droplets, he said.
Blakie's team had determined that an extremely cold gas of highly magnetic atoms would self-bind into gas droplets that stabilized themselves, even in a vacuum.
Their predictions were made using quantum calculations on high performance computing facilities.
The gas needs to be prepared under very specific conditions to observe the formation of droplets, he said.
"We worked out that it had to be at a temperature of a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero, a density more than a billion times lower than liquid water (about 100,000 times lower than air), and in a suitably adjusted magnetic field," he said.
Under these conditions, the gas would spontaneously develop into filament-shaped droplets of micrometer dimensions, which persisted as stable packages even after the gas was released from its container.