Superfluid 3He-the early days

D. M. Lee, A. J. Leggett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A history is given of liquid 3He research from the time when 3He first became available following World War II through 1972 when the discovery of the superfluid phases was made. The Fermi liquid nature was established early on, and the Landau Fermi liquid theory provided a framework for understanding the interactions between the Fermions (quasiparticles). The theory's main triumph was to predict zero sound, which was soon discovered experimentally. Experimental techniques are treated, including adiabatic demagnetization, dilution refrigerator technology, and Pomeranchuk cooling. A description of the superfluid 3He discovery experiments using the latter two of these techniques is given. While existing theories provided a basis for understanding the newly discovered superfluid phases in terms of ℓ > 0 Cooper pairs, the unexpected stability of the A phase in the high-P, high-T region of the phase diagram needed for its explanation a creative leap beyond the BCS paradigm. The use of sum rules to interpret some of the unusual magnetic resonance in liquid 3He is discussed. Eventually a complete theory of the spin dynamics of superfluid 3He was developed, which predicted many of the exciting phenomena subsequently discovered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-172
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Low Temperature Physics
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Aug 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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