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Chiral Symmetry Breaking in Superfluid 3He-A

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Science  05 Jul 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6141, pp. 59-62
DOI: 10.1126/science.1236509

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Quantum Handedness

When a rotating object is placed in circulating fluid, an imbalance of pressures on either side of it causes a deflecting force called the Magnus force. The quantum analog of this effect has been predicted to appear in the low-temperature A phase of 3He, where the Cooper pairs forming the superfluid have a specific handedness. An impurity traveling through such a superfluid would experience a deflecting force in the direction determined by the chirality of the pairs. Ikegami et al. (p. 59) trapped impurities beneath the free surface of 3He, set them in motion, and demonstrated the existence of this deflecting force by measuring the differential transverse current. The sign of the deflection varied over different cooling runs, indicating that the system was choosing one or the other chirality upon entering the superfluid phase—a signature of spontaneous symmetry breaking.

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