New chiral phases of superfluid 3He stabilized by anisotropic silica aerogel

J. Pollanen, J. I.A. Li, C. A. Collett, W. J. Gannon, W. P. Halperin, J. A. Sauls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


A rich variety of Fermi systems condense by forming bound pairs, including high-temperature and heavy-fermion superconductors, Sr 2RuO 4 (ref.), cold atomic gases and superfluid 3He (ref. ). Some of these form exotic quantum states with non-zero orbital angular momentum. We have discovered, in the case of 3He, that anisotropic disorder, engineered from highly porous silica aerogel, stabilizes a chiral superfluid state that otherwise would not exist. Furthermore, we find that the chiral axis of this state can be uniquely oriented with the application of a magnetic field perpendicular to the aerogel anisotropy axis. At sufficiently low temperature we observe a sharp transition from a uniformly oriented chiral state to a disordered structure consistent with locally ordered domains, contrary to expectations for a superfluid glass phase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-320
Number of pages4
JournalNature Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to J. M. Parpia, V. V. Dmitriev, G. E. Volovik, N. Mulders, K. R. Shirer, A. M. Mounce and Y. Lee for discussion and to the National Science Foundation, DMR-1103625, DMR-0805277 and DMR-1106315, for support.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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