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Molecular Tagging Velocimetry in Superfluid Helium-4: Progress, Issues, and Future Development

Abstract

Helium-4 in the superfluid phase (He II) is a two-fluid system that exhibits fascinating quantum hydrodynamics with important scientific and engineering applications. However, the lack of high-precision flow measurement tools in He II has impeded the progress in understanding and utilizing its hydrodynamics. In recent years, there have been extensive efforts in developing quantitative flow visualization techniques applicable to He II. In particular, a powerful molecular tagging velocimetry (MTV) technique, based on tracking thin lines of \(\hbox {He}^*_2\) excimer molecules created via femtosecond laser-field ionization in helium, has been developed in our laboratory. This technique allows unambiguous measurement of the normal fluid velocity field in the two-fluid system. Nevertheless, there are two limitations to this technique: (1) only the velocity component perpendicular to the tracer line can be measured; and (2) there is an inherent error in determining the perpendicular velocity. In this paper, we discuss how these issues can be resolved by advancing the MTV technique. We also discuss two novel schemes for tagging and producing \(\hbox {He}^*_2\) tracers. The first method allows the creation of a tagged \(\hbox {He}^*_2\) tracer line without the use of an expensive femtosecond laser. The second method enables full-space velocity field measurement through tracking small clouds of \(\hbox {He}^*_2\) molecules created via neutron-\(^3\hbox {He}\) absorption reactions in He II.

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Acknowledgements

The author would like to acknowledge the contributions made by previous and current students in the laboratory, including J. Gao, A. Marakov, E. Varga, B. Mastracci, S. Bao, Y. Zhang, and H. Sanavandi. The author would also like to thank many colleagues in quantum turbulence and classical fluid dynamics research fields for valuable discussions. The work has been supported by US Department of Energy under Grant No. DE-FG02-96ER40952 and by the National Science Foundation under Grants Nos. DMR-1807291 and CBET-1801780. All the experiments have been performed at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, which is supported by NSF Grant No. DMR-1644779 and the state of Florida.

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Guo, W. Molecular Tagging Velocimetry in Superfluid Helium-4: Progress, Issues, and Future Development. J Low Temp Phys 196, 60–72 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10909-018-2102-1

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Keywords

  • Quantum turbulence
  • Superfluid helium-4
  • Flow visualization
  • Molecular tagging
  • \(\hbox {He}^*_2\) excimer