Supercooling of the A phase of $^3$He

Kavli Affiliate: Jeevak Parpia

| First 5 Authors: Yefan Tian, Dmytro Lotnyk, Anna Eyal, Kuang Zhang, Nikolay Zhelev

| Summary:

Because of the extreme purity, lack of disorder, and complex order parameter,
the first-order superfluid $^3$He A-B transition is the leading model system
for first order transitions in the early universe. Here we report on the path
dependence of the supercooling of the A phase over a wide range of pressures
below 29.3 bar at nearly zero magnetic field. The A phase can be cooled
significantly below the thermodynamic A-B transition temperature. While the
extent of supercooling is highly reproducible, it depends strongly upon the
cooling trajectory: The metastability of the A phase is enhanced by transiting
through regions where the A phase is more stable. We provide evidence that some
of the additional supercooling is due to the elimination of B phase seeds
formed upon passage through the superfluid transition. A greater understanding
of the physics is essential before the $^3$He can be exploited to model
transitions in the early universe.

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