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Grain Boundary Scars and Spherical Crystallography

Science  14 Mar 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5613, pp. 1716-1718
DOI: 10.1126/science.1081160

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Abstract

We describe experimental investigations of the structure of two-dimensional spherical crystals. The crystals, formed by beads self-assembled on water droplets in oil, serve as model systems for exploring very general theories about the minimum-energy configurations of particles with arbitrary repulsive interactions on curved surfaces. Above a critical system size we find that crystals develop distinctive high-angle grain boundaries, or scars, not found in planar crystals. The number of excess defects in a scar is shown to grow linearly with the dimensionless system size. The observed slope is expected to be universal, independent of the microscopic potential.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: abausch{at}ph.tum.de (A.R.B.), bowick{at}physics.syr.edu (M.J.B.)

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