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Neutron reflection from the surface of a liquid 4He- 3He mixture

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineConference articlepeer-review

  • O. Kirichek
  • N. D. Vasilev
  • T. R. Charlton
  • C. J. Kinane
  • R. M. Dalgliesh
  • A. Ganshin
  • S. Langridge
  • P. V.E. McClintock
Article number012033
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/01/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Physics: Conference Series
Issue number1
Number of pages4
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English
Event26th International Conference on Low Temperature Physics, LT 2011 - Beijing, China
Duration: 10/08/201117/08/2011


Conference26th International Conference on Low Temperature Physics, LT 2011


We have used neutron reflection from the liquid surface at ultra-low temperatures to study the surface properties of liquid helium. We measured neutron scattering from the free surfaces of commercially pure 4He (0.3 ppm of 3He impurities) and of a 3He-4He mixture with a 3He concentration of 0.5% for temperatures in the range from 340mK to 2.2K We compare the reflected neutron intensity for different temperatures and we fit a model that describes the collected data. The data are described well by a diffusive 3He layer of a few hundred Angstrom thickness on the bulk 4He liquid surface. Even at high temperatures (∼2K) there is an increased concentration of 3He atoms near the liquid surface. The distribution does not change very much with temperature. At low temperatures the neutron absorption increases significantly, which might be an indication of the formation of Andreev states. However, the shapes of the curves do not change very much which seems to suggest that the layer formed by the 3He atoms in Andreev states is very thin ∼ 10Å. The experimental method, based on neutron reflectometry, opens up new opportunities for the study of the surfaces and interfaces of quantum fluids and solids.