Domain Shapes and Patterns: The Phenomenology of Modulated Phases

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Science  27 Jan 1995:
Vol. 267, Issue 5197, pp. 476-483
DOI: 10.1126/science.267.5197.476


A wide variety of two- and three-dimensional physical-chemical systems display domain patterns in equilibrium. The phenomenology of these patterns, and of the shapes of their constituent domains, is reviewed here from a point of view that interprets these patterns as a manifestation of modulated phases. These phases are stabilized by competing interactions and are characterized by periodic spatial variations of the pertinent order parameter, the corresponding modulation period generally displaying a dependence on temperature and other external fields. This simple picture provides a unifying framework to account for striking and substantial similarities revealed in the prevalent "stripe" and "bubble" morphologies as well as in commonly observed, characteristic domain-shape instabilities. Several areas of particular current interest are discussed.