Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New model describes avalanche behavior of superfluid helium

By utilizing ideas developed in disparate fields, from earthquake dynamics to random-field magnets, researchers at the University of Illinois have constructed a model that describes the avalanche-like, phase-slip cascades in the superflow of helium.

Just as superconductors have no electrical resistance, superfluids have no viscosity, and can flow freely. Like superconductors, which can be used to measure extremely tiny magnetic fields, superfluids could create a new class of ultra-sensitive rotation sensors for use in precision guidance systems and other applications.

But, before new sensors can be built, scientists and engineers must first acquire a better understanding of the odd quirks of superfluids arising in these devices.

In the April 23 issue of Physical Review Letters, U. of I. physicist Paul Goldbart, graduate student David Pekker and postdoctoral research associate Roman Barankov describe a model they developed to explain some of those quirks, which were found in recent experiments conducted by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley.

In the Berkeley experiments, physicist Richard Packard and his students Yuki Sato and Emile Hoskinson explored the behavior of superfluid helium when forced to flow from one reservoir to another through an array of several thousand nano-apertures. Their intent was to amplify the feeble whistling sound of phase-slips associated with superfluid helium passing through a single nano-aperture by collecting the sound produced by all of the apertures acting in concert.

At low temperatures, this amplification turned out, however, to be surprisingly weak, because of an unanticipated loss of synchronicity among the apertures.

"Our model reproduces the key physical features of the Berkeley group's experiments, including a high-temperature synchronous regime, a low-temperature asynchronous regime, and a transition between the two," said Goldbart, who also is a researcher at the university's Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory.

The theoretical model developed by Pekker, Barankov and Goldbart balances a competition between interaction and disorder – two behaviors more commonly associated with magnetic materials and sliding tectonic plates.

The main components of the researchers' model are nano-apertures possessing different temperature-dependent critical flow velocities (the disorder), and inter-aperture coupling mediated by superflow in the reservoirs (the interactions).

For helium, the superfluid state begins at a temperature of 2.18 kelvins. Very close to that temperature, inter-pore coupling tends to cause neighbors of a nano-aperture that already has phase-slipped also to slip. This process may cascade, creating an avalanche of synchronously slipping phases that produces a loud whistle.

However, at roughly one-tenth of a kelvin colder, the differences between the nano-apertures dominate, and the phase-slips in the nano-apertures are asynchronous, yielding a non-avalanching regime. The loss of synchronized behavior weakens the whistle.

"In our model, competition between disorder in critical flow velocities and effective inter-aperture coupling leads to the emergence of rich collective dynamics, including a transition between avalanching and non-avalanching regimes of phase-slips," Goldbart said. "A key parameter is temperature. Small changes in temperature can lead to large changes in the number of phase-slipping nano-apertures involved in an avalanche."

James E. Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

nachricht Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>