Temperature induced decay of persistent currents in superfluid ultracold gas


We study how temperature affects the lifetime of a quantized, persistent current state in a toroidal Bose-Einstein condensate. When the temperature is increased, we find a decrease in the persistent current lifetime. Comparing our measured decay rates to simple models of thermal activation and quantum tunneling, we do not find agreement. We also measured the size of the hysteresis loops in our superfluid ring as a function of temperature, enabling us to extract the critical velocity. The measured critical velocity is found to depend strongly on temperature, approaching the zero-temperature mean-field solution as the temperature is decreased. This indicates that an appropriate definition of critical velocity must incorporate the role of thermal fluctuations, something not explicitly contained in traditional theories.

Physical Review A 95, 021602(R)