Hydrodynamics provides a successful framework to effectively describe the dynamics of complex many-body systems ranging from subnuclear to cosmological scales by introducing macroscopic quantities such as particle densities and fluid velocities. According to textbook knowledge, it requires coarse graining over microscopic constituents to define a macroscopic fluid cell, which is large compared to the interparticle spacing and the mean free path. In addition, the entire system must consist of many such fluid cells. The latter requirement on the system size has been challenged by experiments on high-energy heavy-ion collisions, where collective particle emission, typically associated with the formation of a hydrodynamic medium, has been observed with few tens of final-state particles. Here, we demonstrate emergence of hydrodynamics in a system with significantly less constituents. Our observation challenges the requirements for a hydrodynamic description, as in our system all relevant length scales, i.e. the system size, the inter-particle spacing, and the mean free path are comparable. The single particle resolution, deterministic control over particle number and interaction strength in our experiment allow us to explore the boundaries between a microscopic description and a hydrodynamic framework in unprecedented detail.

S. Brandstetter, P. Lunt, C. Heintze, G. Giacalone, L. H. Heyen, M. Galka, K. Subramanian, M. Holten, P. M. Preiss, S. Floerchinger, S. Jochim, “Emergent hydrodynamic behaviour of few strongly interacting fermions”, Aug. 18, 2023, arXiv:2308.09699 (2023).


Related to Project ABC, C01, C02