Superfluidity is a state of matter in which the matter behaves like a fluid with zero viscosity. While originally this phenomenon was discovered in liquid helium, it has found applications not only in the theory of liquid helium but also in astrophysics, high-energy physics and theories of quantum gravity. The phenomenon is related to the Bose–Einstein condensation but not identical: not all Bose-Einstein condensates can be regarded as superfluids and not all superfluids are Bose–Einstein condensates.
Superfluidity of liquid helium 
In liquid helium the superfluidity effect was discovered by Pyotr Kapitsa and John F. Allen. It has since been described through phenomenological and microscopic theories. In liquid helium-4 the superfluidity occurs at far higher temperatures than it does in helium-3. Each atom of helium-4 is a boson particle, by virtue of its zero spin. A helium-3 atom, however, is a fermion particle; it can form bosons only by pairing with itself at much lower temperatures. This process is similar to the electron pairing in superconductivity.
Ultracold atomic gases 
Superfluidity in an ultracold fermionic gas was experimentally proved by Wolfgang Ketterle and his team who observed quantum vortices in 6Li at a temperature of 50 nK at MIT in April 2005. Such vortices had previously been observed in an ultracold bosonic gas using 87Rb in 2000, and more recently in two-dimensional gases. As early as 1999 Lene Hau created such a condensate using sodium atoms for the purpose of slowing light, and later stopping it completely. Her team then subsequently used this system of compressed light to generate the superfluid analogue of shock waves and tornadoes: "These dramatic excitations result in the formation of solitons that in turn decay into quantized vortices - created far out of equilibrium, in pairs of opposite circulation - revealing directly the process of superfluid breakdown in Bose-Einstein condensates. With a double light-roadblock setup, we can generate controlled collisions between shock waves resulting in completely unexpected, nonlinear excitations. We have observed hybrid structures consisting of vortex rings embedded in dark solitonic shells. The vortex rings act as 'phantom propellers' leading to very rich excitation dynamics."
Superfluid in astrophysics 
The idea that superfluidity exists inside neutron stars was first proposed by Arkady Migdal. By analogy with electrons inside superconductors forming Cooper pairs due to electron-lattice interaction, it is expected that nucleons in a neutron star at sufficiently high density and low temperature can also form Cooper pairs due to the long-range attractive nuclear force and lead to superfluidity and superconductivity.
Superfluidity in high-energy physics and quantum gravity 
Superfluid vacuum theory is an approach in theoretical physics and quantum mechanics where the physical vacuum is viewed as superfluid. The ultimate goal of the approach is to develop scientific models that unify quantum mechanics (describing three of the four known fundamental interactions) with gravity. This makes SVT a candidate for the theory of quantum gravity and an extension of the Standard Model. It is hoped that development of such theory would unify into a single consistent model all fundamental interactions, and to describe all known interactions and elementary particles as different manifestations of the same entity, superfluid vacuum.
See also 
- Macroscopic quantum phenomena
- Bose–Einstein condensate
- Superfluid helium-4
- Quantum hydrodynamics
- Superfluid vacuum
- Slow light
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Further reading 
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- Antony M. Guénault: Basic superfluids. Taylor & Francis, London 2003, ISBN 0-7484-0891-6.
- James F. Annett: Superconductivity, superfluids, and condensates. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford 2005, ISBN 978-0-19-850756-7.
- G. E. Volovik, The Universe in a helium droplet, Int. Ser. Monogr. Phys. 117 (2003) 1–507.