Article

Metastable Helium Molecules as Tracers in Superfluid He-4

Physics Department, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06515, USA.
Physical Review Letters (Impact Factor: 7.73). 07/2009; 102(23):235301. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.235301
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT Metastable helium molecules generated in a discharge near a sharp tungsten tip immersed in superfluid 4He are imaged using a laser-induced-fluorescence technique. By pulsing the tip, a small cloud of He(2*) molecules is produced. We can determine the normal-fluid velocity in a heat-induced counterflow by tracing the position of a single molecule cloud. As we run the tip in continuous field-emission mode, a normal-fluid jet from the tip is generated and molecules are entrained in the jet. A focused 910 nm pump laser pulse is used to drive a small group of molecules to the first excited vibrational level of the triplet ground state. Subsequent imaging of the tagged molecules with an expanded 925 nm probe laser pulse allows us to measure the flow velocity of the jet. The techniques we developed provide new tools in quantitatively studying the normal fluid flow in superfluid helium.

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