Letter | Published:

The superfluid glass phase of 3He-A

Nature Physics volume 9, pages 775779 (2013) | Download Citation

Abstract

It is established theoretically that an ordered state with continuous symmetry is inherently unstable to arbitrarily small amounts of disorder1,2. This principle is of central importance in a wide variety of condensed systems including superconducting vortices3,4, Ising spin models5 and their dynamics6, and liquid crystals in porous media7,8, where some degree of disorder is ubiquitous, although its experimental observation has been elusive. On the basis of these ideas, it was predicted9 that 3He in high-porosity aerogel would become a superfluid glass. We report here our nuclear magnetic resonance measurements on 3He in aerogel demonstrating destruction of long-range orientational order of the intrinsic superfluid orbital angular momentum, confirming the existence of a superfluid glass. In contrast, 3He-A generated by warming from superfluid 3He-B has perfect long-range orientational order providing a mechanism for switching offthis effect.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to V. V. Dmitriev, M. R. Eskildsen, M. J. P. Gingras, R. Ikeda, J. A. Sauls, J. Saunders, D. Vollhardt and G. E. Volovik for helpful comments and for support from the National Science Foundation, DMR-1103625.

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  1. Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208, USA

    • J. I. A. Li
    • , J. Pollanen
    • , A. M. Zimmerman
    • , C. A. Collett
    • , W. J. Gannon
    •  & W. P. Halperin

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Contributions

The experiment is designed by J.I.A.L., J.P. and W.P.H. Experimental work and analysis was principally carried out by J.I.A.L. assisted by J.P. and A.M.Z. with further support from C.A.C. and W.J.G. Advice and assistance were provided by W.P.H.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to W. P. Halperin.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys2806

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