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J. Low Temp. Physics (1996) 102(1-2) 11-19.
The Influence of Electrostatic Fields on Films of Liquid Helium
Department of Physics, University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4QL (UK).
(Submitted 28 Agust 1995; accepted 25 October 1995)
Prompted by the recent striking experimental results reported by Babkin and Hakonen that appeared to show that liquid helium-II does not wet magnesium fluoride, we have examined the effects that an inhomogeneous electrostatic field has on thin films of liquid helium at temperatures below 0.5 K. Our model includes the influence of gravity, surface tension, the electric field and the van der Waals interaction between the helium and its supporting substrate. We show that an inhomogeneous charge on the substrate can produce effects that mimic the surface profiles between wetted and non-wetted areas. The calculations also indicate that some special precautions may be necessary when studying films of liquid or solid helium on insulators.
Keywords: Keywords: non-wetting, liquid helium, electrostatic.