The A-B transition in superfluid helium-3 under confinement in a thin slab geometry

N. Zhelev, T. S. Abhilash, E. N. Smith, R. G. Bennett, X. Rojas, L. Levitin, J. Saunders, J. M. Parpia

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Abstract

The influence of confinement on the phases of superfluid helium-3 is studied using the torsional pendulum method. We focus on the transition between the A and B phases, where the A phase is stabilized by confinement and a spatially modulated stripe phase is predicted at the A-B phase boundary. Here we discuss results from superfluid helium-3 contained in a single 1.08-μm-thick nanofluidic cavity incorporated into a high-precision torsion pendulum, and map the phase diagram between 0.1 and 5.6 bar. We observe only small supercooling of the A phase, in comparison to bulk or when confined in aerogel, with evidence for a non-monotonic pressure dependence. This suggests that an intrinsic B-phase nucleation mechanism operates under confinement. Both the phase diagram and the relative superfluid fraction of the A and B phases, show that strong coupling is present at all pressures, with implications for the stability of the stripe phase.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15963
JournalNature Communications
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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Zhelev, N., Abhilash, T. S., Smith, E. N., Bennett, R. G., Rojas, X., Levitin, L., Saunders, J., & Parpia, J. M. (2017). The A-B transition in superfluid helium-3 under confinement in a thin slab geometry. Nature Communications, 8, [15963]. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms15963