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Fellows Directory

William Vinen

Professor William Vinen FRS


Elected: 1973


William ‘Joe’ Vinen has made significant contributions to low-temperature physics. His experiments with Henry E. Hall on the attenuation of second sound in rotating liquid helium provided the first demonstration of the probable existence of quantized vortex lines. Later, he gave the first direct proof that the circulation was quantised.

His extensive studies of heat currents in liquid helium led to a thorough understanding of mutual friction between the normal and superfluid components and of critical flow effects. At Birmingham, he has continued to make contributions to the liquid helium problem, including light-scattering studies of the superfluid phase transition.

He has worked also on the problem of flux flow and dissipation processes in type-II superconductors, and on the properties of two-dimensional systems. Most recently, he has worked extensively on turbulence in a superfluid (quantum turbulence), with emphasis on specifically quantum effects and on the connections with turbulence in a classical fluid.

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


Fluid dynamics, Superconductors, Superfluids, Turbulence, two-dimensional systems


  • Rumford Medal

    In recognition of his discovery of the quantum of circulation in superfluid helium and his development of new techniques for precise measurements within liquid helium.