Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Visualizing Poiseuille flow of hydrodynamic electrons


Hydrodynamics, which generally describes the flow of a fluid, is expected to hold even for fundamental particles such as electrons when inter-particle interactions dominate1. Although various aspects of electron hydrodynamics have been revealed in recent experiments2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11, the fundamental spatial structure of hydrodynamic electrons—the Poiseuille flow profile—has remained elusive. Here we provide direct imaging of the Poiseuille flow of an electronic fluid, as well as a visualization of its evolution from ballistic flow. Using a scanning carbon nanotube single-electron transistor12, we image the Hall voltage of electronic flow through channels of high-mobility graphene. We find that the profile of the Hall field across the channel is a key physical quantity for distinguishing ballistic from hydrodynamic flow. We image the transition from flat, ballistic field profiles at low temperatures into parabolic field profiles at elevated temperatures, which is the hallmark of Poiseuille flow. The curvature of the imaged profiles is qualitatively reproduced by Boltzmann calculations, which allow us to create a ‘phase diagram’ that characterizes the electron flow regimes. Our results provide direct confirmation of Poiseuille flow in the solid state, and enable exploration of the rich physics of interacting electrons in real space.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Overview of graphene channel device and imaging of magnetoresistance.
Fig. 2: Imaging ballistic and Poiseuille electron flow profiles.
Fig. 3: Carrier density dependence of hydrodynamic electron flow profiles.
Fig. 4: Curvature of the imaged Ey profiles and phase diagram of electron flow regimes.

Data availability

The data that support the plots and other analysis in this work are available upon request.

Code availability

Computer code for reproducing the Boltzmann simulations and computing the electron-electron scattering length is available upon request.


  1. 1.

    Gurzhi, R. N. Minimum of resistance in impurity free conductors. Sov. Phys. JETP 27, 1019 (1968).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    de Jong, M. J. M. & Molenkamp, L. W. Hydrodynamic electron flow in high-mobility wires. Phys. Rev. B 51, 13389–13402 (1995).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Bandurin, D. A. et al. Negative local resistance due to viscous electron backflow in graphene. Science 351, 1055–1058 (2016).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Crossno, J. et al. Observation of the Dirac fluid and the breakdown of the Wiedemann-Franz law in graphene. Science 351, 1058–1061 (2016).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Moll, P. J. W., Kushwaha, P., Nandi, N., Schmidt, B. & Mackenzie, A. P. Evidence for hydrodynamic electron flow in PdCoO2. Science 351, 1061–1064 (2016).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Krishna Kumar, R. et al. Superballistic flow of viscous electron fluid through graphene constrictions. Nat. Phys. 13, 1182–1185 (2017).

    ADS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Braem, B. A. et al. Scanning gate microscopy in a viscous electron fluid. Phys. Rev. B 98, 241304 (2018).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Gooth, J. et al. Thermal and electrical signatures of a hydrodynamic electron fluid in tungsten diphosphide. Nat. Commun. 9, 4093 (2018).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Gusev, G. M., Levin, A. D., Levinson, E. V. & Bakarov, A. K. Viscous transport and Hall viscosity in a two-dimensional electron system. Phys. Rev. B 98, 161303 (2018).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Bandurin, D. A. et al. Fluidity onset in graphene. Nat. Commun. 9, 4533 (2018).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Berdyugin, A. I. et al. Measuring Hall viscosity of graphene’s electron fluid. Science 364, 162–165 (2019).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Ella, L. et al. Simultaneous imaging of voltage and current density of flowing electrons in two dimensions. Nat. Nanotechnol. 14, 480–487 (2019).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Lucas, A. & Fong, K. C. Hydrodynamics of electrons in graphene. J. Phys. Condens. Matter 30, 053001 (2018).

    ADS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Levitov, L. & Falkovich, G. Electron viscosity, current vortices and negative nonlocal resistance in graphene. Nat. Phys. 12, 672–676 (2016).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Mohseni, K., Shakouri, A., Ram, R. J. & Abraham, M. C. Electron vortices in semiconductors devices. Phys. Fluids 17, 100602 (2005).

    ADS  MATH  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Andreev, A. V., Kivelson, S. A. & Spivak, B. Hydrodynamic description of transport in strongly correlated electron systems. Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 256804 (2011).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Alekseev, P. S. Negative magnetoresistance in viscous flow of two-dimensional electrons. Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 166601 (2016).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Falkovich, G. & Levitov, L. Linking spatial distributions of potential and current in viscous electronics. Phys. Rev. Lett. 119, 066601 (2017).

    ADS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Torre, I., Tomadin, A., Geim, A. K. & Polini, M. Nonlocal transport and the hydrodynamic shear viscosity in graphene. Phys. Rev. B 92, 165433 (2015).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Pellegrino, F. M. D., Torre, I., Geim, A. K. & Polini, M. Electron hydrodynamics dilemma: whirlpools or no whirlpools. Phys. Rev. B 94, 155414 (2016).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Ho, D. Y. H., Yudhistira, I., Chakraborty, N. & Adam, S. Theoretical determination of hydrodynamic window in monolayer and bilayer graphene from scattering rates. Phys. Rev. B 97, 121404 (2018).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Levchenko, A., Xie, H.-Y. & Andreev, A. V. Viscous magnetoresistance of correlated electron liquids. Phys. Rev. B 95, 121301 (2017).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Lucas, A. & Hartnoll, S. A. Kinetic theory of transport for inhomogeneous electron fluids. Phys. Rev. B 97, 045105 (2018).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Scaffidi, T., Nandi, N., Schmidt, B., Mackenzie, A. P. & Moore, J. E. Hydrodynamic electron flow and Hall viscosity. Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 226601 (2017).

    ADS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Shytov, A., Kong, J. F., Falkovich, G. & Levitov, L. Particle collisions and negative nonlocal response of ballistic electrons. Phys. Rev. Lett. 121, 176805 (2018).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Alekseev, P. S. & Semina, M. A. Ballistic flow of two-dimensional interacting electrons. Phys. Rev. B 98, 165412 (2018).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Svintsov, D. Hydrodynamic-to-ballistic crossover in Dirac materials. Phys. Rev. B 97, 121405 (2018).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Narozhny, B. N., Gornyi, I. V., Mirlin, A. D. & Schmalian, J. Hydrodynamic approach to electronic transport in graphene. Ann. Phys. 529, 1700043 (2017).

    MATH  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Masubuchi, S. et al. Boundary scattering in ballistic graphene. Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 036601 (2012).

    ADS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Wang, L. et al. One-dimensional electrical contact to a two-dimensional material. Science 342, 614–617 (2013).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Holder, T. et al. Ballistic and hydrodynamic magnetotransport in narrow channels. Preprint at (2019).

  32. 32.

    Kiselev, E. I. & Schmalian, J. Boundary conditions of viscous electron flow. Phys. Rev. B 99, 035430 (2019).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Principi, A., Vignale, G., Carrega, M. & Polini, M. Bulk and shear viscosities of the two-dimensional electron liquid in a doped graphene sheet. Phys. Rev. B 93, 125410 (2016).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Gurzhi, R. N., Kalinenko, A. N. & Kopeliovich, A. I. Electron-electron collisions and a new hydrodynamic effect in two-dimensional electron gas. Phys. Rev. Lett. 74, 3872–3875 (1995).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Ledwith, P., Guo, H. & Levitov, L. The hierarchy of excitation lifetimes in two-dimensional Fermi gases. Ann. Phys. 411, 167913 (2019).

    MathSciNet  CAS  MATH  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Waissman, J. et al. Realization of pristine and locally tunable one-dimensional electron systems in carbon nanotubes. Nat. Nanotechnol. 8, 569–574 (2013).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Thornton, T. J., Roukes, M. L., Scherer, A. & Van de Gaag, B. P. Boundary scattering in quantum wires. Phys. Rev. Lett. 63, 2128–2131 (1989).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Ditlefsen, E. & Lothe, J. Theory of size effects in electrical conductivity. Phil. Mag. 14, 759–773 (1966).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Molenkamp, L. W. & de Jong, M. J. M. Electron-eletron-scattering-induced size effects in a two-dimensional wire. Phys. Rev. B 49, 5038 (1994).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Courant, R. & Hilbert, D. Methods of Mathematical Physics II: Partial Differential Equations 62–131 (Wiley, 2008).

  41. 41.

    Kashuba, O., Trauzettel, B. & Molenkamp, L. W. Relativistic Gurzhi effect in channels of Dirac materials. Phys. Rev. B 97, 2015129 (2018).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Gurzhi, R. N. Hydrodynamic effects in solids at low temperature. Sov. Phys. Usp. 11, 255–270 (1968).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Alekseev, P. S. et al. Nonmonotonic magnetoresistance of a two-dimensional viscous electron-hole fluid in a confined geometry. Phys. Rev. B 97, 085109 (2018).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank G. Falkovich, A. Shytov, L. Levitov, D. Bandurin and R. Krishna-Kumar for discussions. We further acknowledge support from the Helmsley Charitable Trust grant, the ISF (grant number 712539), WIS-UK collaboration grant, the ERC-Cog (See-1D-Qmatter number 647413), the Deloro Award, the Minerva Foundation, and the Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems initiative of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Author information




J.A.S., L.E. and S.I. conceived the experiments. J.A.S., L.E., A.R., D.D. and S.I. performed the experiments. J.A.S., L.E., A.R. and S.I. analysed the data. J.B., D.J.P. and M.B.-S. fabricated the graphene devices. K.W. and T.T. supplied the hBN crystals. T.S., T.H., R.Q., A.P., A.R. and A.S. performed theoretical calculations. J.A.S., L.E. and S.I. wrote the manuscript, with input from all authors.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Shahal Ilani.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Peer review information Nature thanks Klaus Ensslin, Boris Narozhny and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Fig. 1

Relation between transport and momentum-relaxing mean free path across the phase diagram of flow regimes and the electron mobility. a, Boltzmann calculation of ltr versus lMR and lee. The two-dimensional map shows the ratio of the finite-field-transport mean free path, ltr(B) = h/[2e2 (π|n|)1/2ρxx(B)], and the bulk mean free path, ltr/lMR, calculated using Boltzmann theory at W/Rc = 3.2 for a channel with diffusive walls, as a function of lee/W and lMR/W. b, Electron mobility μ measured with scanning SET, equivalent to the lMR data presented in Fig. 1d.

Extended Data Fig. 2 Diffusivity of etched channel walls in the experiment.

a, Illustration of a channel used to assess the diffusivity of etched walls by direct comparison to lithographically roughened walls. The walls of the left half of the channel are patterned with a typical straight-line pattern, whereas the right half is patterned with a saw-toothed pattern to introduce roughness. The region enclosed by the dashed box in the upper right is an AFM image of the etched walls. The red dashed line marks the spatial region spanning both wall patterns along which the potential drop is measured. b, Measured potential drop along the centre of the channel (red dashed line in a). Away from the voltage steps at the contacts, the potential drops linearly across the device, with no observable change in slope when the walls transition from straight line to saw-tooth etches. c, Zoom of magnetoresistance data from Fig. 1c plotted as ltr(B) for varying density. At the transition where the double peak disappears, ltr(B = 0) ≈ W/(1 – p), allowing estimation of specularity p. d,Theoretical scaling of ltr(B = 0) with n for varying p superimposed with the experimental data (bold black line), indicating that p is nearly zero (fully diffusive walls).

Extended Data Fig. 3 Dependence of Hall field profile curvature on magnetic field.

a, Measured traces of κ, extracted from Ey using a fit to the centre of the channel, as a function of magnetic field plotted in units of W/Rc B. The blue trace is measured at T = 4 K and hole density of n = −6.06 × 1011 cm−2 on device B (see Methods and Extended Data Fig. 5). The orange trace is measured at T = 50 K and n = −1.02 × 1012 cm−2 on device B, and the yellow trace is measured at T = 150 K and a hole density of n = −3.15 × 1011 cm−2 on device A, which is the device used throughout the main text. Two distinct regimes are apparent: Below W/Rc ≈ 2, the curvature is nearly independent of W/Rc, whereas above it varies noticeably, acquiring large values. b, Curvature as a function of W/Rc extracted from a Boltzmann simulation of Ey as described in the main text. Coloured curves correspond to values of lMR and lee that best match experiment. This figure verifies that by imaging at W/Rc = 1.3 as in the main text, the profiles are not influenced by the magnetic field.

Extended Data Fig. 4 Dependence of Hall field profile curvature on voltage excitation.

κ, the normalized curvature of Ey, is plotted as a function of the excitation amplitude Vex applied between the contacts of the channel. Error bars correspond to standard deviation of κ from the least-squares fit of a parabola to the data. The blue trace shows T = 7.5 K and n = −1.5 × 1011 cm−2; the purple trace shows T = 75 K and n = −3.3 × 1011 cm−2. This plot verifies that by choosing appropriate values for the excitation, as was done for the experiments in the main text, electron heating effects are negligible.

Extended Data Fig. 5 Comparison of Hall field profile curvature for different devices.

a, Top, optical image of graphene device (device A) patterned into the geometry of a channel, with W = 4.7 μm and L = 15 μm, studied in the main text. Bottom, normalized curvature of Ey, κ, measured as a function of W/Rc. b, Top, optical image of an additional graphene device (device B) used for similar measurements, with W = 5 μm and L = 42 μm. This device was measured in a separate cryostat with a different scanning microscope and different SET. Colour differences between optical images are due to lighting conditions. Bottom, κ versus W/Rc measured for device B, showing a result highly consistent with that in a.

Extended Data Fig. 6 Distinguishing electron flow regime from transport.

The graph shows the dependence of Leff/W, which is inversely proportional to the resistivity, on lee/W, for fixed values of lb/W = lMR/W. The purple- and red-coloured regions correspond to the parameter ranges of our experiment for T = 75 K and T = 150 K, respectively. It is evident from these curves that the dependence of the resistivity on lee/W is fairly weak when lMR/W is not much larger than 1. Figure reprinted with permission from de Jong and Molenkamp2; copyright 2019 by the American Physical Society.

Extended Data Fig. 7 Phase diagram demonstrating that the experiment falls within the Fermi liquid regime.

The black line shows the equality EF = kBT, which separates the temperature–density plane into two distinct regimes. Above this line is the Dirac fluid regime in which electrons and holes are both present and thus electron–hole scattering must be considered. Below this line is the degenerate Fermi liquid regime in which only one charge carrier is present. The blue, purple and red lines correspond to the experiments presented in Fig. 4 at T = 7.5 K, T = 75 K and T = 150 K, respectively, and show that our experiments are categorically within the Fermi liquid regime.

Extended Data Fig. 8 Curvature of ballistic jx and comparison of theoretical Ey and jx across phase diagram.

a, Curvature of ballistic current profile versus lMR/W. The analytic solution (blue curve) is based on de Jong and Molenkamp2 and the red curve is a Monte Carlo billiard ball simulation result. The two methods agree perfectly until lMR exceeds the channel length used in the billiard ball simulation, beyond which the solutions begin to deviate. b, Curvature κ of Ey, as in Fig. 4b, calculated by Boltzmann simulation (see Methods), as a function of lee/W and lMR/W for W/Rc = 1.3. Curvature is calculated over the centre of the channel. Green lines divide the panel into flow regimes as in Fig. 4b. c, Curvature κ of jx, extracted from the same simulation as a. For jx, the curvature in the ballistic regime is essentially constant at κ ≈ 0.31 and so the curvature of jx is less discriminating between the hydrodynamic and ballistic regimes than the curvature of Ey, which becomes negative. In the other regimes, the curvatures of jx and Ey are very similar, and the differences between them diminish as each of the length scales becomes much smaller than W. In the hydrodynamic regime the curvature saturates on the maximal possible value for a strictly parabolic profile, and in the porous regime it follows the length scale \({D}_{\nu }=\frac{1}{2}\sqrt{{l}_{{\rm{MR}}}{l}_{{\rm{ee}}}}\) as expected.

Extended Data Fig. 9 Comparisons of representative imaged Ey profiles to the Boltzmann simulated profiles.

Boltzmann simulation profiles are plotted in green, whereas the experimental data is plotted with the same colour scheme as in main text based on temperature (blue for T = 7.5 K, purple for T = 75 K and red for T = 150 K). The field Ey is normalized as in the main text by the classical Hall field Ecl = (B/ne)(I/W).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sulpizio, J.A., Ella, L., Rozen, A. et al. Visualizing Poiseuille flow of hydrodynamic electrons. Nature 576, 75–79 (2019).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing