A wild experiment reveals what would happen if you touched a quantum superfluid

A wild experiment reveals what would happen if you touched a quantum superfluid

An experiment has finally revealed what it might feel like to touch a super quantum fluid.

Physicists dipped a special finger-sized probe into a helium isotope cooled to a small degree above absolute zero, and recorded its physical properties.

They say this is the first time we’ve gotten an idea of ​​what the quantum universe might look like. No one had to suffer horrific frostbite, or ruin an experiment, to discover the truth.

“In practice, we don’t know the answer to the question: What does it feel like to touch quantum physics?” Says physicist Samoli Oti from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, who led the research.

“These experimental conditions are harsh and the techniques are complex, but I can now tell you how it would feel if you could put your hand into this quantum system. No one has been able to answer this question in the 100-year history of quantum physics. And now we are showing it, at least in liquids.” Super 3He, that question can be answered.”

Superfluid is a state of matter that behaves like a fluid without viscosity or friction. There are two isotopes of helium that can create a superfluid. When cooled to above absolute zero (−273.15°C or −459.67°F), the helium-4 isotope bosons slow down enough to nest into a high-density array of atoms that behaves like a single superatom.

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Helium-3 slightly different. Their nucleus is fermions, a class of particles that spin differently from bosons. When cooled below a certain temperature, fermions become bound together in what is called Cooper pairsEach of them consists of two fermions that together form a compound boson. These Cooper pairs behave just like bosons and can therefore form a superfluid.

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Otte and his team have been experimenting with fermionic helium-3 superfluid for some time, and discovered that although the Cooper pairs are very fragile, researchers can stick a wire inside without breaking the pairs, or even disrupting the flow of the superfluid. So the team decided to design a probe to study the properties of the liquid up close and personal.

Well, it’s really weird. The surface of the liquid appears to form an independent two-dimensional layer that transfers heat away from the rod. The bulk of the superfluid underneath acts almost like a vacuum; The researchers found that it is completely passive and does not look like anything at all.

The only part of the liquid that interacted with the probe was the two-dimensional surface layer. The bulk can only be reached if a huge amount of energy is transferred to it. The thermo-mechanical properties of the superfluid are entirely determined by that 2D layer.

“This liquid would appear 2D if you could put your finger in it. The bulk of the superfluid appears empty, while heat flows in a 2D subsystem along the edges of the bulk — in other words, along your finger.” Oti says.

“This also redefines our understanding of superfluids [Helium-3]. “For a scientist, this may be more impactful than hands-on training in quantum physics.”

Researchers say the implications are profound. Helium 3 is a superfluid The purest material knownAs such, it is of intense scientific interest to study Collective states of matter Such as excess fluids. Understanding how the 2D layer behaves can shed light on the behavior of quasiparticles, topological defects, and quantum energy states.

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“These research methods” The researchers write“It has the potential to transform our understanding of this versatile, macroscopic quantum system.”

Search is Because of the appearance in Nature Communicationsand he Available on archive.

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