Half-quantum vortices and walls bounded by strings in the polar-distorted phases of topological superfluid 3He

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Abstract

Symmetries of the physical world have guided formulation of fundamental laws, including relativistic quantum field theory and understanding of possible states of matter. Topological defects (TDs) often control the universal behavior of macroscopic quantum systems, while topology and broken symmetries determine allowed TDs. Taking advantage of the symmetry-breaking patterns in the phase diagram of nanoconfined superfluid 3He, we show that half-quantum vortices (HQVs)—linear topological defects carrying half quantum of circulation—survive transitions from the polar phase to other superfluid phases with polar distortion. In the polar-distorted A phase, HQV cores in 2D systems should harbor non-Abelian Majorana modes. In the polar-distorted B phase, HQVs form composite defects—walls bounded by strings hypothesized decades ago in cosmology. Our experiments establish the superfluid phases of 3He in nanostructured confinement as a promising topological media for further investigations ranging from topological quantum computing to cosmology and grand unification scenarios.
Original languageEnglish
Article number237
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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