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It also needs the Rubidium atom cloud too. As far as I understand it, that's what really makes this happen. The photons essentially "bind" together due to some quantum trickery that the Rubidium atoms are doing. The photons don't actually interact directly with each other but instead interact through the atoms - the atoms act as a mediator. Even if it could somehow happen at higher temperatures, it still requires a media. They compared it to refraction, which only happens at a media-media boundary.
The thing about crystals is probably only referring to making a repeating pattern of trapped photons within a substance. For photons to be solid would require them to no longer be photons, as far as I have learned on how bosons work. I think 343i may have to look elsewhere for a semi-real life basis for hard light.