Thermography of the superfluid transition in a strongly interacting Fermi gas

Zhenjie Yan, Parth B. Patel, Biswaroop Mukherjee, Chris J. Vale, Richard J. Fletcher, Martin Zwierlein

Science 383, 629 (2024)

(free-access link)

preprint version

Second sound in a superfluid

A heat wave – second sound – sloshing back and forth in a superfluid Fermi gas.

Heat transport can serve as a fingerprint identifying different states of matter. In a normal liquid, a hotspot diffuses, whereas in a superfluid, heat propagates as a wave called “second sound.” Direct imaging of heat transport is challenging, and one usually resorts to detecting secondary effects. In this study, we establish thermography of a strongly interacting atomic Fermi gas, whose radio-frequency spectrum provides spatially resolved thermometry with subnanokelvin resolution. The superfluid phase transition was directly observed as the sudden change from thermal diffusion to second-sound propagation and is accompanied by a peak in the second-sound diffusivity. This method yields the full heat and density response of the strongly interacting Fermi gas and therefore all defining properties of Landau’s two-fluid hydrodynamics.

MIT News article 

Physics World