Vortex knots in tangled quantum eigenfunctions
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review
Colleges, School and Institutes
- University of Bristol
Tangles of string typically become knotted, from macroscopic twine down to long-chain macromolecules such as DNA. Here, we demonstrate that knotting also occurs in quantum wavefunctions, where the tangled filaments are vortices (nodal lines/phase singularities). The probability that a vortex loop is knotted is found to increase with its length, and a wide gamut of knots from standard tabulations occur. The results follow from computer simulations of random superpositions of degenerate eigenstates of three simple quantum systems: a cube with periodic boundaries, the isotropic three-dimensional harmonic oscillator and the 3-sphere. In the latter two cases, vortex knots occur frequently, even in random eigenfunctions at relatively low energy, and are constrained by the spatial symmetries of the modes. The results suggest that knotted vortex structures are generic in complex three-dimensional wave systems, establishing a topological commonality between wave chaos, polymers and turbulent Bose–Einstein condensates.
|Publication status||Published - 29 Jul 2016|