Principles of superfluid-helium gyroscopes

Phys. Rev. B 46, 3540 – Published 1 August 1992
Richard E. Packard and Stefano Vitale


In this paper we describe how quantum coherence of superfluid helium provides a mechanism by which very small rotations can substantially modify the flow in a toroidal container. The specific modifications to that flow are discussed. For He4, we explain how the rotationally induced flow can be detected by monitoring the apparent phase-slip critical current. The rotational resolution is limited by stochastic processes related to the nucleation of phase slips. This type of superfluid-helium gyroscope (SHEG) is an analog of the rf superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID). We also show how the large coherence length of He3 can be utilized to lead to a rotationally induced interference pattern. Changes in this pattern can permit the detection of very small rotational motion. This type of SHEG is analogous to the dc SQUID. In appendixes, electrical circuits equivalent to the SHEG are described, as are certain constraints on rotational sensitivity imposed by external measuring devices.


  • Received 16 April 1992
  • Published in the issue dated 1 August 1992

© 1992 The American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

Richard E. Packard

  • Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720

Stefano Vitale

  • University of Trento and Instituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, I-38050 Povo, Trento, Italy

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