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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Angular Momentum in Rotating Superfluid Droplets


The angular momentum of rotating superfluid droplets originates from quantized vortices and capillary waves, the interplay between which remains to be uncovered. Here, the rotation of isolated submicrometer superfluid ^{4}He droplets is studied by ultrafast x-ray diffraction using a free electron laser. The diffraction patterns provide simultaneous access to the morphology of the droplets and the vortex arrays they host. In capsule-shaped droplets, vortices form a distorted triangular lattice, whereas they arrange along elliptical contours in ellipsoidal droplets. The combined action of vortices and capillary waves results in droplet shapes close to those of classical droplets rotating with the same angular velocity. The findings are corroborated by density functional theory calculations describing the velocity fields and shape deformations of a rotating superfluid cylinder.

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