The nonequilibrium dynamics of an ion chain in a highly anisotropic trap is studied when the transverse trap frequency is quenched across the value at which the chain undergoes a continuous phase transition from a linear to a zigzag structure. Within Landau theory, an equation for the order parameter, corresponding to the transverse size of the zigzag structure, is determined when the vibrational motion is damped via laser cooling. The number of structural defects produced during a linear quench of the transverse trapping frequency is predicted and verified numerically. It is shown to obey the scaling predicted by the Kibble-Zurek mechanism, when extended to take into account the spatial inhomogeneities of the ion chain in a linear Paul trap. © 2010 The American Physical Society.
|Journal||Physical Review Letters|
|Publication status||Published - 11 Aug 2010|