Visualization of superfluid helium flow

Matthew S. Paoletti, Ralph B. Florlto, Katepalli R. Sreenivasan, Daniel P. Lathrop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We discuss an experimental technique to visualize motion in the bulk of superfluid 4He by tracking micron-sized solid hydrogen tracers. The behavior of the tracers is complex since they may be trapped by the quantized vortices while also interacting with the normal fluid via Stokes drag. We discuss the mechanism by which tracers may be trapped by quantized vortices as well as the dependencies on hydrogen volume fraction, temperature, and flow properties. We apply this technique to study the dynamics of a thermal counterflow. Our observations serve as a direct confirmation of the two-fluid model as well as a quantitative test of the normal fluid velocity dependence on the applied heat flux.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111007
JournalJournal of the Physical Society of Japan
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Flow visualization
  • Quantum fluids
  • Quantum turbulence
  • Superfluid
  • Thermal counterflow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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