In quantum matter, vortices are topological excitations characterized by quantized circulation of the velocity field. They can be found in contexts as diverse as superconductors, Bose-Einstein condensates, laser beams, and even in the recently detected gravitational waves emitted during the merging of two spinning black holes.
Quantum vortices are often modelled as funnel-like holes around which the quantum fluid exhibits a swirling flow. In this perspective, vortex cores are nothing more than empty regions where the superfluid density goes to zero, and their motion is governed by first-order differential equations. In the last few years, this simple view has been challenged and it is now increasingly clear that, in many real systems, vortex cores are not that empty. In these cases, the hole in the superfluid is filled by particles or excitations which dress the vortices and provide them with an effective inertial mass.
This feature opens the door to exciting new scenarios where inertial effects compete with the usual inter-vortex interactions. In this way, well-established results about vortex dynamics, binding-unbinding phase transitions, and robustness of superfluidity are challenged. The project “Vortexons” will provide a complete description of the physics disclosed by quantum vortices with massive cores, addressing these crucial open issues from both the theoretical and the experimental sides. The resulting theory aims to be not only the gold standard in all those phenomena where quantum matter features massive topological excitations, but also the necessary foundation for the development of new high-performance superconductors. In this perspective, our theory will thus possibly be the seed of major breakthroughs having a disruptive impact on society, economy, and environmental policies, such as higher-resolution magnetic resonance scanners, low-power microprocessors, and high-speed transportation.
- HORIZON.1.2 - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Main Programme