Structural phase transitions in low-dimensional ion crystals

Shmuel Fishman, Gabriele De Chiara, Tommaso Calarco, Giovanna Morigi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


A chain of singly charged particles, confined by a harmonic potential, exhibits a sudden transition to a zigzag configuration when the radial potential reaches a critical value, depending on the particle number. This structural change is a phase transition of second order, whose order parameter is the crystal displacement from the chain axis. We study analytically the transition using Landau theory and find full agreement with numerical predictions by Schiffer [Phys. Rev. Lett. 70, 818 (1993)] and Piacente [Phys. Rev. B 69, 045324 (2004)]. Our theory allows us to determine analytically the system's behavior at the transition point. © 2008 The American Physical Society.
Original languageEnglish
Article number064111
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2008


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