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Unusual property of liquid helium cooled below 455.75 °F (270.97 °C). At such low temperatures, helium exhibits an enormous rise in heat conductivity and rapid flow through capillaries or over the rim of its container. To explain such behaviour, the substance is described in terms of a two-fluid mixture model consisting of normal helium and superfluid helium. In normal helium the atoms are in excited states (seeexcitation), whereas in superfluid helium they are in their ground state. As the temperature is lowered below 455.75 °F, more of the helium becomes superfluid. It is assumed that the superfluid component can move through the container without friction, thereby explaining the unusual behaviour.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on superfluidity, visit Britannica.com.