Reconnection scaling in quantum fluids

Enrico Fonda, Katepalli R. Sreenivasan, Daniel P. Lathrop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fundamental to classical and quantum vortices, superconductors, magnetic flux tubes, liquid crystals, cosmic strings, and DNA is the phenomenon of reconnection of line-like singularities. We visualize reconnection of quantum vortices in superfluid 4 He, using submicrometer frozen air tracers. Compared with previous work, the fluid was almost at rest, leading to fewer, straighter, and slower-moving vortices. For distances that are large compared with vortex diameter but small compared with those from other nonparticipating vortices and solid boundaries (called here the intermediate asymptotic region), we find a robust 1/2-power scaling of the intervortex separation with time and characterize the influence of the intervortex angle on the evolution of the recoiling vortices. The agreement of the experimental data with the analytical and numerical models suggests that the dynamics of reconnection of long straight vortices can be described by self-similar solutions of the local induction approximation or Biot-Savart equations. Reconnection dynamics for straight vortices in the intermediate asymptotic region are substantially different from those in a vortex tangle or on distances of the order of the vortex diameter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1924-1928
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 5 2019


  • Quantized vortices
  • Reconnections
  • Superfluids
  • Visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Reconnection scaling in quantum fluids'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this