Superfluid swimmers

G. V. Kolmakov, I. S. Aranson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The propulsion of living microorganisms ultimately relies on viscous drag for body-fluid interactions. The self-locomotion in superfluids such as He4 is deemed impossible due to the apparent lack of viscous resistance. Here, we investigate the self-propulsion of a Janus (two-face) light-absorbing particle suspended in superfluid helium He4 (He-II). The particle is energized by the heat flux due to the absorption of light from an external source. We show that a quantum mechanical propulsion force originates due to the transformation of the superfluid to a normal fluid on the heated particle face. The theoretical analysis is supported by the numerical solution of the Ginzburg-Landau-Khalatnikov model for a superfluid. Our results shed light on the dynamics of inclusions in a superfluid and stimulate experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number013188
JournalPhysical Review Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 26 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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