Structural transitions in vertically and horizontally coupled parabolic channels of Wigner crystals
Faculty of Sciences. Physics
PHYSICAL REVIEW B
, p. 1-9
University of Antwerp
Structural phase transitions in two vertically or horizontally coupled channels of strongly interacting particles are investigated. The particles are free to move in the x direction but are confined by a parabolic potential in the y direction. They interact with each other through a screened power-law potential (r(-n)e(-r/lambda)). In vertically coupled systems, the channels are stacked above each other in the direction perpendicular to the (x, y) plane, while in horizontally coupled systems both channels are aligned in the confinement direction. Using Monte Carlo (MC) simulations we obtain the ground-state configurations and the structural transitions as a function of the linear particle density and the separation between the channels. At zero temperature, the vertically coupled system exhibits a rich phase diagram with continuous and discontinuous transitions. On the other hand, the horizontally coupled system exhibits only a very limited number of phase transitions due to its symmetry. Further, we calculated the normal modes for the Wigner crystals in both cases. From MC simulations, we found that in the case of vertically coupled systems, the zigzag transition is only possible for low densities. A Ginzburg-Landau theory for the zigzag transition is presented, which predicts correctly the behavior of this transition from which we interpret the structural phase transition of the Wigner crystal through the reduction of the Brillouin zone.