Journal article Open Access

How trapped particles interact with and sample superfluid vortex excitations

Umberto Giuriato, Giorgio Krstulovic, and Sergey Nazarenko

Particles have been used for more than a decade to visualize and study the dynamics of quantum vortices in superfluid helium. In this work we study how the dynamics of a collection of particles set inside a vortex reflects the motion of the vortex. We use a self-consistent model based on the Gross-Pitaevskii equation coupled with classical particle dynamics. We find that each particle oscillates with a natural frequency proportional to the number of vortices attached to it. We then study the dynamics of an array of particles trapped in a quantum vortex and use particle trajectories to measure the frequency spectrum of the vortex excitations. Surprisingly, due to the discreetness of the array, the vortex excitations measured by the particles exhibit bands, gaps, and Brillouin zones, analogous to the ones of electrons moving in crystals. We then establish a mathematical analogy where vortex excitations play the role of electrons and particles that of the potential barriers constituting the crystal. We find that the height of the effective potential barriers is proportional to the particle mass and the frequency of the incoming waves. We conclude that large-scale vortex excitations could be in principle directly measured by particles and novel physics could emerge from particle-vortex interaction.

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