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Quantum interference of superfluid 3He


Celebrated interference experiments have demonstrated the wave nature of light1 and electrons2, quantum interference being the manifestation of wave–particle duality. More recently, double-path interference experiments have also demonstrated the quantum-wave nature of beams of neutrons3, atoms4 and Bose–Einstein condensates5. In condensed matter systems, double-path quantum interference is observed in the d.c. superconducting quantum interference device6 (d.c. SQUID). Here we report a double-path quantum interference experiment involving a liquid: superfluid 3He. Using a geometry analogous to the superconducting d.c. SQUID, we control a quantum phase shift by using the rotation of the Earth, and find the classic interference pattern with periodicity determined by the 3He quantum of circulation.

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Figure 1: Two views of our superfluid quantum interferometer.
Figure 2: The spectrum of the mass current during a 2-s interval of the data stream from the SQUID position transducer.
Figure 3: The interference pattern of a superfluid quantum interference gyroscope.


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We thank S. Vitale and K. Penanen for discussions; Y. Sato for assistance; A. Loshak for making the aperture arrays; and E. Crump, D. Mathews and C. Ku for assistance in improving noise conditions in our building. This work was supported in part by NASA, the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation, and the Miller Institute for Basic Research (J.C.D.).

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Correspondence to R. E. Packard.

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Simmonds, R., Marchenkov, A., Hoskinson, E. et al. Quantum interference of superfluid 3He. Nature 412, 55–58 (2001).

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