Is a gas of strongly interacting atomic fermions a nearly perfect fluid?
We use all-optical methods to produce a highly-degenerate Fermi gas of spin-1/2 6Li atoms. A magnetic field tunes the gas near a collisional (Feshbach) resonance, producing strong interactions between spin-up and spin-down atoms. We have measured properties of a breathing mode over a wide range of temperatures. As the temperature is increased from below the superfluid transition to above, the frequency of the mode is always close to the hydrodynamic value, while the damping rate increases. A complete explanation of both the frequency and the damping rate in the normal collisional regime has not been achieved. Our measurements of the damping rate as a function of the energy of the gas are used to estimate an upper bound on the viscosity. Using our new measurements of the entropy of the gas, we estimate the ratio of the shear viscosity to the entropy density and compare the result with a recent string theory conjecture for the minimum viscosity of a perfect quantum fluid. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007.
Turlapov, A; Kinast, J; Clancy, B; Luo, L; Joseph, J; Thomas, JE
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