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The propulsion of living microorganisms ultimately relies on viscous drag for body-fluid interactions. The self-locomotion in superfluids such as 4He 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 4He (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.


Kolmakov, G. V., & Aranson, I. S. (2021). Superfluid swimmers. Physical Review Research, 3(1), 013188,

The article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY 4.0) License.



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