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Cornell University
LASSP -  Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics

Cornell Laboratory for Atomic and Solid State Physics

Jeevak Parpia's Superfluid Polka Dots

Exotic behaviors emerge in atoms when cooled to near absolute zero, a temperature so cold that atoms cease their jittery movement. By bringing the isotope helium-3 to the brink of that threshold and confining it to a tiny space, Cornell researchers discovered that a surprising polka dot pattern spontaneously appeared in the superfluid.

“We found clear evidence of a pattern emerging, essentially out of the blue. Systems are not supposed to do that,” said Jeevak Parpia, M.S. ’77, Ph.D. ’79, professor of physics who specializes in low-temperature physics.

The work was described in the paper “Evidence for a Spatially Modulated Superfluid Phase of 3He Under Confinement,” published in February in Physical Review Letters. Parpia collaborated with researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London, (led by physics professor John Saunders and researcher Lev Levitin) where the experiments were conducted using special confinement chambers constructed at Cornell.

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