Quartz tuning forks are high-quality mechanical oscillators widely used in low temperature physics as viscometers, thermometers, and pressure sensors. We demonstrate that a fork placed in liquid helium near the surface of solid helium is very sensitive to the oscillations of the solid-liquid interface. We developed a double-resonance read-out technique, which allowed us to detect oscillations of the surface with an accuracy of 1 Å in 10 s. Using this technique, we have investigated crystallization waves in 4He down to 10 mK. In contrast to previous studies of crystallization waves, our measurement scheme has very low dissipation, on the order of 20 pW, which allows us to carry out experiments even at sub-mK temperatures. We propose to use this scheme in the search for crystallization waves in 3He, which exist only at temperatures well below 0.5 mK. The suggested technique can also be used for accurate displacement detection in a large variety of systems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)