Stirring a superfluid with a laser


Schematics of optical trapping in superfluid helium. Credit: Minowa, Yosuke

Scientists from the Graduate School of Engineering Science at Osaka University used optical tweezers for the primary time inside superfluid helium. With a strongly centered beam of sunshine, they demonstrated the steady trapping of nanoparticles at ultralow temperatures. This work might assist scientists higher perceive the conceptual boundary that separates classical and quantum results.

Studying the unusual world of quantum mechanics is commonly tough, as a result of a number of the most fascinating phenomena happen solely beneath excessive circumstances. For instance, when helium is cooled to very low temperatures, it may type a superfluid state which flows with out viscosity or friction. This change is because of the quantum “wavelike” nature of matter, through which the ultracold helium atoms start to coordinate and behave nearly like a single particle. While the existence of superfluid helium has been recognized for a very long time, the way in which that it interacts with bigger objects has not been totally studied.

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Now, a workforce of researchers from Osaka University manipulated nanoparticles suspended in superfluid helium utilizing optical tweezers. They had been ready to make use of this optical trapping impact to restrict metallic and dielectric nanoparticles within the superfluid helium that was simply 1.4 levels above absolute zero. “This experiment was the primary profitable software of optical tweezers at ultralow temperatures, as a result of we had been working at 271 levels centigrade beneath zero,” first creator Yosuke Minowa says. The trapped nanoparticles had been product of gold or zinc oxide, between 10 and 80 nanometers in dimension, and will stay suspended for as much as half-hour.

Optical tweezers enable for the three-dimensional confinement of tiny nanoparticles utilizing a strongly centered beam of light from a laser. The gentle acts like a “tractor beam,” and this methodology is extensively utilized in physics, chemistry, biology, and medical research. Normally, optical tweezers function at room temperature, however this examine opens the way in which for brand new cryogenic purposes. “Our work enables exploring unprecedented interactions between quantum fluids and classical nanomaterials,” Minowa says. In superfluid helium, tiny whirlpools referred to as vortices seem, however every can solely spin at sure allowed values. In the long run, nanoparticles could be used to visualise and even management these vortices. This analysis might assist higher perceive the transition between the quantum realm and acquainted legal guidelines of physics.

Large helium nanodroplets splash like water upon surface collisions

More info:
Yosuke Minowa et al, Optical trapping of stable nanoparticles in superfluid helium, Optica (2022). DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.447557

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Stirring a superfluid with a laser (2022, January 20)
retrieved 20 January 2022

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