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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P025625/1
Title: Microscopic dynamics of quantized vortices in turbulent superfluid in the T=0 limit
Principal Investigator: Golov, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Walmsley, Dr PM Mullin, Professor T Vinen, Professor WF
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 July 2017 Ends: 30 June 2021 Value (£): 922,558
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Quantum Fluids & Solids
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
R&D
Related Grants:
EP/P022197/1
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
24 Jan 2017 EPSRC Physical Sciences - January 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Turbulence is ubiquitous in nature and affects almost every aspect of our daily lives. Despite its overwhelming importance, turbulence is poorly understood, mainly because of the complexity of turbulent motion over a very wide range of length scales. Turbulence in superfluid helium, known as quantum turbulence, is special, because quantum mechanics restricts all vortices to have a single fixed value of circulation. Thus we are dealing with a dynamic tangle of vortex lines, all of the same strength. Turbulence, including its quantum variant, is an inherently non-equilibrium phenomenon: remove the driving force, and the turbulence decays.

Our goal is to confront the two remaining, mutually interconnected, challenges of quantum turbulence in the T=0 limit: (i) to observe and investigate the elementary processes occurring with individual vortex lines inside bulk tangles; (ii) explore the interaction, and its consequences, of vortex lines with solid boundaries.

(i) Below 0.5K damping of the motion of vortex lines effectively vanishes. While it is expected that vortex reconnection and deformation on a broad range of length scales are the main ingredients of their dynamics, no direct observations of these at low temperatures have been made so far. The programme will produce sequences of 2D and 3D images of vortex lines, their bundles and tangles - in different types of turbulent flow, visualized through fluorescence of either He2* excimers or dyed nanoparticles as tracers. Hence, we will obtain information on different aspects of quantum turbulence, and its distinction from classical turbulence. This new technique could revolutionize the study of quantum turbulence. As quantum turbulence mimics classical turbulence on large length scales, our direct visualization of the structure and dynamics of the region of concentrated vorticity might also make an important contribution to the understanding of intermittency in classical turbulence when coherent structures cause rare events of large amplitude.

(ii) The understanding of the dynamics of vortex tangles near solid walls is another outstanding fundamental question. The creation of quantum turbulence seems to be "seeded" by remanent vortices pre-existing in the superfluid. It was suggested that the evolution to fully-developed quantum turbulence as the amplitude of an oscillating structure increases may occur via a 2-stage process. First, shaking of the lines sloughs off a gas of small vortex rings, which reconnect to form a random tangle. This tangle itself behaves like a fluid of small viscosity undergoing laminar flow. Then at a higher velocity there is a second transition when the flow turns turbulent. We propose to test this picture experimentally.

All earlier experiments on the generation of quantum turbulence by oscillating structures have used objects with convex surfaces; the flow round them is classically unstable at a low velocity, so that the two supposed transitions are not clearly separated. In contrast, we propose experiments where the helium is inside a pill-box that oscillates about its axis, thus eliminating all flow over convex surfaces. The two transitions should then be well separated and identifiable as characteristic increases in damping. We will also illuminate the fundamental properties of the remanent vortices themselves, by investigating their pinning to microscopic protuberance. Recent measurements indicate that vortex pinning get weaker at low temperatures, perhaps through reconnections with lines of the mesh of remanent vortices. To test these results, we propose experiments in a spherical cell, a geometry in which pinned vortex loops are inherently unstable, as well as visualization of remanent vortices, both away from and near boundaries.
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Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk