Journal of Low Temperature Physics

, Volume 106, Issue 1, pp 101-131

First online:

Magnetic Levitation of liquid helium

  • M. A. WeilertAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, Brown University
  • , D. L. WhitakerAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, Brown University
  • , H. J. MarisAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, Brown University
  • , G. M. SeidelAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, Brown University

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We report on the stable levitation of liquid helium drops of up to 2 cm diameter in a magnetic trap at temperatures down to 1.5 K in the earth's gravitational field. The production and properties of a magnetic trap for diamagnetic materials is discussed. The behavior of liquids in such a trap is analyzed, including the deformation of a liquid drop by the trap forces. We frequently observe two drops in the magnetic trap which are held in apparent contact for up to 3 minutes without coalescing. This non-coalescence effect was only seen above the superfluid transition temperature. We explain this effect in terms of the existence of a vapor layer between the drops caused by evaporation of the drops, much like the suspension of a liquid drop above a hot surface known as the Leidenfrost effect.