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Second Sound Shock Waves in Rotating Superfluid Helium


Torczynski, John Robert (1983) Second Sound Shock Waves in Rotating Superfluid Helium. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Y2KN-XM66.


Second sound shock waves have been used to examine the breakdown of superfluidity in bulk He II. The maximum counterflow velocity achieved in this manner was measured at a variety of temperatures and pressures. The results are found to agree with predictions of vortex nucleation theories (Langer and Fisher, 1967) in their pressure and temperature dependences although it was shown that dissipation occurred only near the heater. A simple scaling argument is suggested, assuming breakdown occurs near the heater. A vortex dynamics model of breakdown (following the method of Turner, private communication) is developed.

To examine the effect of vorticity on breakdown, second sound shocks were produced in rotating helium. Experiments were performed in which the shocks propagated either along or normal to the axis of rotation, called "axial" and "transverse" cases, respectively. In both cases the decay was seen to increase monotonically with the rotation rate. Furthermore, the decay was ongoing, rather than being confined to a narrow region near the heater. However, the extraordinary dissipation in the transverse case seemed to be related primarily to the arrival of secondary waves from the heater-sidewall boundary. An explanation of this difference is put forth in terms of vortex nucleation in the bulk fluid, using ideas similar to Crocco's Theorem.

In order to examine the breakdown of superfluidity away from walls in nonrotating fluid, spherically converging second sound shocks were produced. The temperature jumps of the waves were measured, and exact numerical solutions of the two-fluid jump conditions (Moody, 1983) were used to calculate the relative velocity in each case. The experiments show that the processes limiting the counterflow velocity still occur at the heater although the strongest final waves produced have relative velocities in excess of 10 m/sec. These are the largest relative velocities ever produced in the bulk fluid.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Counterflow; Critical velocity; He II; Quantum vortex; Rotating liquid; Second sound; Shock wave; Superfluid helium
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Applied Physics
Minor Option:Applied Mathematics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Corngold, Noel Robert
Thesis Committee:
  • Corngold, Noel Robert (chair)
  • Liepmann, Hans Wolfgang
  • Sturtevant, Bradford
  • Cohen, Donald S.
  • Mercereau, James E.
Defense Date:27 May 1983
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-11032005-113539
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:4390
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:03 Nov 2005
Last Modified:21 Dec 2019 04:51

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PDF (Torczynski_jr_1983.pdf) - Final Version
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