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Evolution of large-scale flow from turbulence in a two-dimensional superfluid

TitleEvolution of large-scale flow from turbulence in a two-dimensional superfluid
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsS. P. Johnstone, A. J. Groszek, P. T. Starkey, C. J. Billington, T. P. Simula, and K. Helmerson
JournalScience
Volume364
Pagination1267+
Date PublishedJUN 28
Type of ArticleArticle
ISSN0036-8075
Abstract

Nonequilibrium interacting systems can evolve to exhibit large-scale structure and order. In two-dimensional turbulent flow, the seemingly random swirling motion of a fluid can evolve toward persistent large-scale vortices. To explain such behavior, Lars Onsager proposed a statistical hydrodynamic model based on quantized vortices. Here, we report on the experimental confirmation of Onsager's model. We dragged a grid barrier through an oblate superfluid Bose-Einstein condensate to generate nonequilibrium distributions of vortices. We observed signatures of an inverse energy cascade driven by the evaporative heating of vortices, leading to steady-state configurations characterized by negative absolute temperatures. Our results open a pathway for quantitative studies of emergent structures in interacting quantum systems driven far from equilibrium.

DOI10.1126/science.aat5793