Packing and melting of mesoscopically confined two-dimensional Coulomb crystals in straight narrow channels

Kuo An Liu, Lin I

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The microstructure and melting dynamics of the two-dimensional mesoscopic Coulomb crystal with 1/r -type mutual interaction force and parabolic transverse confining potential, under different degrees of incommensurability, are investigated through molecular-dynamics simulation. To tune the degree of incommensurability, Na extra particles are added into the commensurate uniform triangular lattice which has seven-layer structure and 40 particles in each layer with the periodic longitudinal boundary condition, until the system reaches another commensurate packing with eight-layer structure at Na =40. It is found that the increasing incommensurability with the increasing Na or 40- Na gradually deteriorates the structural order with the presence of intrinsic defects and the anisotropic bond-length distribution, except for the defect-free configurations at a few magic Na 's. The system prefers the seven- and the eight-layer single structures through the entire crystal for the low- and the high- Na regimes, respectively, and the configurations with seven- and eight-layer domain mixtures for 18≤ Na ≤24. The increasing strain or the worse local particle interlocking around the intrinsic defects with the increasing incommensurability also causes the easier structural rearrangement associated with the easier particle hopping and the earlier onset of melting transition. The transverse confinement suppresses the transverse motion, induces nonuniform melting, and sustains the layered structure after melting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number041504
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 27 Oct 2010


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