Dr. Kali Wilson
Department of Physics
University of Strathclyde
107 Rottenrow East
Glasgow G4 0NG
United Kingdom
Office: John Anderson

Superfluid dynamics


My experimental background spans ultracold atoms and molecules, nonlinear optics, and quantum imaging technologies. Following my undergraduate at Wellesley College, I taught high-school physics for 4-years, developing an inquiry-based curriculum with an emphasis on light and optics. I then did my PhD in Optical Sciences in Brian Anderson’s group at the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences, studying vortex dynamics and quantum turbulence in Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs). I developed techniques for vortex imaging, and for generating vortex distributions with signatures of quantum turbulence.

In 2015, I moved to Edinburgh to join Daniele Faccio’s group at Heriot–Watt University (the group has since moved to Glasgow University) to investigate photon fluids, i.e., superfluids of light, with applications to superfluidity, analogue gravity, and photon droplets. A complementary atomic physics / quantum imaging research direction involved using single photon avalanche diode camera-arrays for real-time imaging of slow light propagating through rubidium vapour. In 2018, I joined Simon Cornish’s group at Durham University, working on the CsYb ultracold atom experiment.  During my time in Durham, we demonstrated the first Cs-Yb dual-BECs which facilitate studies of beyond mean-field physics in ultracold atoms. 


My research uses superfluids of light and superfluids formed of ultracold atoms to address fundamental physics questions such as the mechanisms underlying turbulence, and cooperative behaviour in many-body quantum systems, and relies on bridging experimental techniques from the atomic physics, nonlinear optics and imaging communities.

What are the mechanisms underlying turbulent fluid flow? How do these flows facilitate transport of energy and materials?
Turbulent flows, such as the disordered, chaotic tangle of eddies and whirlpools generated as water rushes past a boulder, are ubiquitous in nature. Turbulent mixing, e.g. in ocean flows, plays an important role in the transfer of energy, materials, and organisms. Despite their familiarity, turbulent flows are among the most challenging scientific subjects to understand theoretically, and the underlying mechanisms that generate turbulence and dictate its properties remain largely unknown. The unique properties of superfluid mixtures can be used to reduce turbulent flow to its component parts, allowing us to studying how quantum eddies and whirlpools interact to transfer energy throughout the turbulent fluid.

What are the mechanisms underlying the emergence of cooperative behaviour from a system of many interacting quantum particles, and how does this cooperative behaviour change when the system is driven out of equilibrium?
Society relies on man-made materials, from the electronic components in our phones to the synthetic fibres we use to keep warm. A new class of quantum materials promises to harness the bizarre properties of quantum mechanics to radically change the way we process information and transmit power. In these quantum materials, properties such as superfluidity (fluid flow without viscosity) or superconductivity (conduction of electricity without resistance), emerge as a result of cooperative behaviour of the microscopic particles that make up the materials. The mechanisms behind this cooperative behaviour are elusive, and difficult to understand from first principles. Novel quantum materials, such as quantum droplets formed in a mixture of two-species of ultracold atoms, can help us to study experimentally how quantum particles interact cooperatively to produce macroscopic properties. This allows us to isolate the role of quantum effects such as fluctuations and entanglement in macroscopic emergent phenomena.

I have a funded PhD position available so please contact me if you are interested.

Publications (see also: GoogleScholar, Orcid, ResearcherID)

    • K.E. Wilson*, A. Guttridge*,  J. Segal, and S.L. Cornish, Quantum degenerate mixtures of Cs and Yb, Phys. Rev. A 103, 033306 (2021). *K.W. and A.G. contributed equally. [arXiv]
    • K.E. Wilson*, A. Guttridge*, I-K. Liu, J. Segal, T.P. Billam, N.G. Parker, N.P. Proukakis, and S.L. Cornish, Dynamics of a degenerate Cs-Yb mixture with attractive interspecies interactions, arXiv:2012.11008 (2020). *K.W. and A.G. contributed equally. [arXiv]
    • K.E. Wilson, N. Westerberg, M. Valiente, C. W. Duncan, E.M. Wright, P. Öhberg, and D. Faccio, Observation of photon droplets and their dynamics, Phys. Rev. Lett. 121, 133903 (2018). [arXiv]
    • N. Westerberg, K.E. Wilson, C. W. Duncan, D. Faccio, E.M. Wright, P. Öhberg, and M. Valiente, Self-bound droplets of light with orbital angular momentum, Phys. Rev. A 98, 053835 (2018). [arXiv]
    • G. Musarra, K.E. Wilson, D. Faccio, E.M. Wright, Rotation-dependent nonlinear absorption of orbital angular momentum beams in ruby, Opt. Lett. 43, 3073 (2018). [pdf]
    • P. Caramazza, K. Wilson, G. Gariepy, J. Leach, S. McLaughlin, D. Faccio, Y. Altmann, Enhancing the recovery of a temporal sequence of images using joint deconvolution, Sci. Rep. 8, 5257 (2018). [open access]
    • D.Vocke, C. Maitland, A. Prain, K.E. Wilson, F. Biancalana, E.M. Wright, F. Marino, and D. Faccio, Rotating black hole geometries in a two-dimensional photon superfluid, Optica 5, 1099 (2018). [open access]
    • K. Wilson, B. Little, G. Gariepy, R. Henderson, J. Howell, D. Faccio, Slow light in flight imaging, Phys. Rev. A 95, 023830 (2017). [arXiv]
    • D. Vocke*, K. Wilson*, F. Marino, I. Carusotto, B.P. Anderson, P. Öhberg, and D. Faccio, Role of geometry in the superfluid flow of nonlocal photon fluids, Phys. Rev. A 94, 013849 (2016). *D.V. and K.W. contributed equally. [arXiv]
    • E.C. Samson, K.E. Wilson, Z.L. Newman, and B.P. Anderson, Deterministic creation, pinning, and manipulation of quantized vortices in a Bose-Einstein condensate, Phys. Rev. A 93, 023603 (2016). [arXiv]
    • T. Roger, C. Maitland, K. Wilson, N. Westerberg, D. Vocke, E.M. Wright, and D. Faccio, Optical analogues of the Newton-Schrödinger equation and boson star evolution, Nat. Comms. 7, 13492 (2016). [open access]
    • N. Westerberg, C. Maitland, D. Faccio, K. Wilson, P. Öhberg, and E.M. Wright, Synthetic magnetism for photon fluids, Phys. Rev. A 94, 023805 (2016). [arXiv]
    • K.E. Wilson, Z.L. Newman, J.D. Lowney and B.P. Anderson, In situ imaging of vortices in Bose-Einstein condensates, Phys. Rev. A 91, 023621 (2015). [arXiv]
    • K.E. Wilson, E.C. Samson, Z.L. Newman, T.W. Neely and B.P. Anderson, Experimental methods for generating two-dimensional quantum turbulence in Bose-Einstein condensates, Annual Review of Cold Atoms and Molecules, Vol. 1, Chpt. 7, Pgs. 261-298 (2013). Eds: Kirk Madison, Yiqiu Wang, Ana Maria Rey and Kai Bongs. [arXiv]