29 July 2019

Luttinger liquid behavior of helium-three in nanotubes

The photo shows the NMR probe used for the ultra-low temperature NMR measurements. The photo shows the NMR probe used for the ultra-low temperature NMR measurements.

Study of helium atoms at low temperatures illuminate extreme quantum effects that were earlier predicted.

What did scientists discover?

The motions of atoms in a liquid comprised of the rare version of helium, known as "helium-three" (or 3He), is determined from nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) measurements of the alignment of the magnetic fields of the helium atoms. We find that the temperature dependence of this magnetic field alignment, when the liquid is confined to long nanotubes, follows the prediction expected for an exotic quantum mechanical fluid called a Luttinger liquid.


This research was conducted in the 8 Tesla Superconducting Magnet at the MagLab's High B/T Facility.

Why is this important?

The Luttinger liquid theory is a triumph of theoretical physics, as it is one of the few exactly solved problems in quantum mechanics for systems of strongly interacting particles. Acquiring experimental results that can confirm (or refute) these theoretical predictions is very challenging and very important to verify (or undermine) this prominent, cutting-edge theory.

Who did the research?

J. Adams1, D. Candela2, C. Huan1, M. Lewkowitz1, N. Sullivan1

1University of Florida; 2University of Massachusetts

Why did they need the MagLab?

The unique high-sensitivity low-temperature NMR spectrometer of the high B/T Facility was needed for this experiment, because the NMR signal is greatly reduced by a fundamental property of helium-three at these low temperatures (known technically as “the onset of Fermi degeneracy”).

Details for scientists


This research was funded by the following grants: G.S. Boebinger (NSF DMR-1157490, NSF DMR-1644779); C. Huan(NHMFL-UCGP)

For more information, contact Neil Sullivan.


  • Research Area: Condensed Matter Technique Development, Quantum Fluids and Solids
  • Research Initiatives: Materials
  • Facility / Program: High B/T
  • Year: 2019
Last modified on 29 July 2019