What happens if you touch a superfluid?  The experiment provides answers that have been sought for more than a century

Lancaster University representatives are behind it. As they explain in their article, it is currently in preprint form, but is scheduled to be published in Nature CommunicationsThe conclusions reached provide important information about what the quantum universe could look like.

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Dipping your finger into a helium isotope cooled to near absolute zero, the lowest possible temperature in the universe, doesn’t sound like a good idea. Therefore, the members of the research team were not looking for reckless people who would be ready for such a sacrifice. Instead, they decided to use a specially designed probe.

In this way, they were able to determine the properties of the superfluid. As they assert, no one in the nearly hundred-year history of quantum physics has been able to answer the question posed in the title. So far. However, before we move on to a detailed description of the entire experience, it would be helpful to explain what super liquidity is.

A superfluid is a state of matter that behaves like a fluid with no viscosity or friction. Scientists from Great Britain decided to conduct a probe into it

It can be briefly described as a state of matter that behaves like a fluid with no viscosity or friction. Science knows of at least two isotopes of helium capable of creating such a superfluid, and helium-4 bosons – when exposed to a temperature close to absolute zero – slow down to the point that they begin to interfere with each other. last. In such conditions, a highly dense array of atoms is formed, behaving as if it were a single super atom.

In the case of helium-3, we are dealing with fermions, which behave differently than bosons. At a low enough temperature, they begin to fuse into cooper vapors, although the end result is similar in that they can also form a superfluid. During experiments with helium-3, a probe was placed between the pairs, thanks to which it was possible to accurately determine the properties of this superfluid.

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What did members of the research team notice? First, as it turns out, the superfluid’s surface appears to form an independent two-dimensional layer that transfers heat away from the probe. Most of the liquid underneath turned out to be completely negative and was compared to a vacuum. A small portion of the superfluid interacted with the probe, which was a two-dimensional surface layer.

Bottom line, the superfluid created using helium-3, according to scientists from Great Britain, is the cleanest substance known. As more research is conducted, which should focus on how the 2D layer of such a superfluid behaves, many other aspects need to be better understood. This includes, for example, the behavior of quasiparticles, topological defects and quantum energy states.

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