New phase diagrams of superfluid helium under varying degrees of confinement | 3/1/2019 | Staff
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A simplified phase diagram of superfluid 3He under varying degrees of confinement. Credit: Shook et al.

Physicists have been studying superfluid 3He under nanoscale confinement for several years now, as this unique liquid presents a rich variety of phases with complex order parameters that can be stabilized. While past studies have gathered many interesting observations, a complete and reliable picture of superfluid 3He under confinement has yet to be attained.

Researchers - University - Alberta - Leap - Direction

Researchers at the University of Alberta have recently taken a huge leap forward in this direction, by introducing new phase diagrams of superfluid 3He under varying degrees of uniaxial confinement. Their paper, published in Physical Review Letters, could shed light on the progressive stability of the exotic liquid's A phase, while also uncovering a growing region of stable pair density wave state.

"The idea for this project was seeded all the way back in the mid-2000s when I was a PhD student at Northwestern University," John Davis, one of the researchers who carried out the study, told "I was working with Prof. William Halperin, doing experimental studies of superfluid 3He, while in the group of Prof. Jim Sauls a PhD student named Anton Vorontsov, now a professor at Montana State University, was exploring ideas around superfluid 3He under confinement."

Ideas - Vorontsov - Decade - Papers - Paper

The ideas developed by Vorontsov over a decade ago culminated in two interesting theoretical papers, published in 2005 and 2007. The first paper predicted the formation of a 'domain wall' between two types of superfluid. In physics, domain walls are known, among other things, for separating microscopic domains in ferromagnetic materials and the alignment of magnetic domains ultimately leads to macroscopic ferromagnetism. However, the idea of domain walls separating two regions of a fluid is far less intuitive and is therefore somewhat tantalizing.

"Vorontsov's 2007 paper took this idea even further and predicted that in...
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