An experiment at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory revealed a well-organized 3-D grid of quantum “tornadoes” inside microscopic droplets of supercooled liquid helium — the first time this formation has been seen at such a tiny scale.
“What we found in this experiment was really surprising. We did not expect the beauty and clarity of the results,” said Christoph Bostedt, a co-leader of the experiment and a senior scientist at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), the DOE Office of Science User Facility where the experiment was conducted.
“We were able to see a manifestation of the quantum world on a macroscopic scale,” said Ken Ferguson, a PhD student from Stanford University working at LCLS.
While tiny tornadoes had been seen before in chilled helium, they hadn’t been seen in such tiny droplets, where they were packed 100,000 times more densely than in any previous experiment on superfluids, Ferguson said.