Snell's Law for a vortex dipole in a Bose-Einstein condensate

Michael M. Cawte, Xiaoquan Yu, Brian P. Anderson, Ashton S. Bradley

SciPost Phys. 6, 032 (2019) · published 13 March 2019

Abstract

A quantum vortex dipole, comprised of a closely bound pair of vortices of equal strength with opposite circulation, is a spatially localized travelling excitation of a planar superfluid that carries linear momentum, suggesting a possible analogy with ray optics. We investigate numerically and analytically the motion of a quantum vortex dipole incident upon a step-change in the background superfluid density of an otherwise uniform two-dimensional Bose-Einstein condensate. Due to the conservation of fluid momentum and energy, the incident and refracted angles of the dipole satisfy a relation analogous to Snell's law, when crossing the interface between regions of different density. The predictions of the analogue Snell's law relation are confirmed for a wide range of incident angles by systematic numerical simulations of the Gross-Piteavskii equation. Near the critical angle for total internal reflection, we identify a regime of anomalous Snell's law behaviour where the finite size of the dipole causes transient capture by the interface. Remarkably, despite the extra complexity of the surface interaction, the incoming and outgoing dipole paths obey Snell's law.


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Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) Dipolar interactions

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