Quantum Conundrum Resolved: Decoding the Enigma of Quantized Vortex Movement

by Santiago Fernandez
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quantized vortex interaction

Depiction of quantized vortex ring hovering over the plane (depicted in green), alongside ordinary-fluid vortex rings (represented as reddish semi-circles). Credit goes to Makoto Tsubota, OMU.

Understanding the dynamics between quantized vortices and regular fluids.

A team of researchers from Osaka Metropolitan University, Florida State University, and Keio University have unraveled the enigmatic relationship between a quantized vortex and a typical fluid in super-cold liquid helium-4. By leveraging cutting-edge computation and visualization techniques, they discovered that the most suitable model accounted for the fluctuations in the regular fluid and included precise mutual friction.

Liquid helium-4, in its superfluid state at cryogenic temperatures near absolute zero (-273°C), exhibits a unique vortex, known as a quantized vortex, which is a result of quantum mechanical effects. When the temperature is slightly elevated, the regular fluid coexists within the superfluid helium, and as the quantized vortex moves, mutual friction arises between it and the regular fluid. However, it has been a challenge to accurately describe how a quantized vortex interacts with a moving regular fluid. Even though several theoretical models have been suggested, it has remained uncertain which one is accurate.

The study was led by Professor Makoto Tsubota and Specially Appointed Assistant Professor Satoshi Yui from Osaka Metropolitan University’s Graduate School of Science and the Nambu Yoichiro Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics, respectively, alongside colleagues from Florida State University and Keio University. They meticulously examined the interaction between a quantized vortex and a regular fluid numerically. Through their experimental findings, the team was able to determine the most coherent model among various theoretical ones. They concluded that the model taking into account the regular fluid’s variations and integrating more theoretically accurate mutual friction is the most compatible with the experimental data.

“I’ve been fascinated by the enigma of the interaction between a quantized vortex and a regular fluid ever since I started my research in this field 40 years ago,” reflected Professor Tsubota. “Thanks to advancements in computation, we’ve been able to tackle this problem, and the impressive visualization experiment carried out by our partners at Florida State University has sparked a significant breakthrough. As often happens in science, technological progress has enabled us to shed light on the matter, and this study exemplifies that.”

Their research was published in the scientific journal Nature Communications on May 23, 2023.

Citation: “Imaging quantized vortex rings in superfluid helium to evaluate quantum dissipation” by Yuan Tang, Wei Guo, Hiromichi Kobayashi, Satoshi Yui, Makoto Tsubota, and Toshiaki Kanai, 23 May 2023, Nature Communications.
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-38787-w

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about quantized vortex interaction

What is the focus of the research conducted by the scientists?

The research focused on unraveling the interaction between quantized vortices and regular fluids in cryogenic liquid helium-4.

What is a quantized vortex?

A quantized vortex is a vortex that arises from quantum mechanical effects and is observed in the superfluid state of liquid helium-4 at extremely low temperatures.

What is mutual friction?

Mutual friction refers to the phenomenon where frictional forces occur between a moving quantized vortex and the regular fluid present in the superfluid helium-4.

Why is understanding the interaction between quantized vortices and normal fluids important?

Understanding this interaction helps elucidate the behavior of superfluid helium-4 and provides insights into the fundamental properties of quantum systems.

What models were considered in the research?

Several theoretical models were evaluated, but the most suitable model accounted for changes in the normal-fluid and incorporated accurate mutual friction, aligning well with the experimental results.

How were the researchers able to study this interaction?

The researchers employed advanced computation and visualization techniques to numerically investigate the interaction between quantized vortices and normal fluids.

What significance does this research hold?

This research resolves a long-standing mystery in the field and contributes to a deeper understanding of the dynamics of quantized vortices and their relationship with regular fluids in superfluid helium-4.

Where was the research published?

The findings of this research were published in the journal Nature Communications on May 23, 2023.

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