Europhys. Lett.
Volume 75, Number 1, July 2006
Page(s) 91 - 97
Section Condensed matter: structural, mechanical and thermal properties
Published online 31 May 2006
Europhys. Lett., 75 (1), pp. 91-97 (2006)
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i2006-10075-y

Homogeneous nucleation of crystals by acoustic waves

R. Ishiguro, F. Caupin and S. Balibar

Laboratoire de Physique Statistique de l'Ecole Normale Supérieure, associé au CNRS et aux Universités Paris 6 and 7 - 24 rue Lhomond, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France

received 7 March 2006; accepted in final form 10 May 2006
published online 31 May 2006

In order to study the homogeneous nucleation of crystals in a pressurized liquid, we focused a high-intensity acoustic wave in superfluid helium-4. We studied the scattering of light at the acoustic focus and found the first experimental evidence that, beyond a certain wave amplitude, positive pressure swings crystallize the liquid on their path. We discuss measurements of the nucleation time and of the pressure dependence of the scattered light intensity near the liquid-solid equilibrium pressure. Future developments of this work are related to the prediction of a metastability limit for liquid $^4\ab{He}$ at high pressure where superfluidity could vanish.

67.80.-s - Solid helium and related quantum crystals.
64.60.Qb - Nucleation.
43.35.+d - Ultrasonics, quantum acoustics, and physical effects of sound.

© EDP Sciences 2006