That may sound incredibly mind-bendy, but it's a feat researchers have been working towards for more than 50 years. Supersolids are strange materials with atoms arranged in the ordered structure of a solid, yet they can flow without friction, just like a superfluid.
Two years ago, physicists successfully created supersolids using ultra-cold magnetic atoms... but only in one-dimension. Now, a team of Austrian researchers has managed to create the crystal-like structure in 2D for the first time; the result will allow physicists to test and experiment with some of the weirdest materials-science phenomena out there.
"To picture a supersolid, consider an ice cube immersed in liquid water, with frictionless flow of the water through the cube," writes physicist Bruno Laburthe-Tolra from the Laser Physics Laboratory in Paris, in a News & Views article published alongside the new paper in Nature today.
That's because, like with other quantum phenomena (think entanglement or Schrödinger's cat), the particles in a supersolid state are both locked into a rigid solid structure, but also delocalized at the same time, which allows them to behave like a wave and flow freely without friction throughout the solid.