Physicists first created a new type of camera to see quantum vortices

Lancaster researchers have developed a camera-like device. It is capable of displaying

mini whirlpools in quantum fluids. Its properties are determined by quantum effects. An example of such a liquid is liquid helium at a temperature close to absolute zero (-273.15 °C).

Vortices form in agitated liquids,when water drains into a drain hole, they can also be seen in tornadoes and cyclones. They are unpredictable, unlike those that form with quantum fluids. Such vortices are always the same size. This phenomenon can be observed due to quantum effects that only occur at very low temperatures. For example, vortices can be observed in superfluid liquid helium-3.

The problem is that quantum vortices are inherently too small to be captured without tracers by a conventional camera - until now.

Physicists from Lancaster UniversityDr. Theo Noble's leadership has developed a new type of camera that uses special particles to capture images of clusters of vortices instead of light. Their work has been published in the journal Physical Review B.

The camera is an array of pixels five byfive. Each of the 25 pixels is a millimeter-sized cylindrical cavity with a quartz tuning fork in the middle. A team of scientists tested the chamber on vortices created by a vibrating wire in the form of supercold helium.

“Essentially, we are measuring the shadows cast by quantum vortices on the camera,” explains Dr. Theo Noble, one of the authors of the study.

Even with a small number of pixels, a newthe camera found that most of the vortices formed above the vibrating wire rather than around it. Dr. Victor Zepelin, head of the ultra-low temperature laboratory at Lancaster University, said that this was not predicted by either mathematical theories or numerical simulations.

Now scientists want to create a 90-pixel camerahigh enough resolution to capture details of the development and decay of carefully prepared collections of eddies. This ability to observe the dynamics of superfluid helium-3 will improve understanding of the turbulent motion of quantum fluids and turbulence in general.

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