Theoretical simulations of six harmonically trapped bosons. See footnote for details on each graph.
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have unveiled a fundamental change in the properties of matter. The theoretical finding, that bosons placed in two-dimensional harmonic traps will crystallize when the strength of their repulsive interactions is increased, appears in the December 3 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters (volume 93, article 230405, 2004).
One of two categories of elementary particles, bosons typically form cloudy aggregates called Bose-Einstein condensates when cooled to temperatures near absolute zero. In the condensate, the particles may be pictured as sitting on top of one another, occupying the same space. But that’s only when their interactions are relatively weak, said Uzi Landman, director of the Center for Computational Materials Science, Regents’ professor and Callaway chair of physics at Georgia Tech.
"When the repulsive interaction between the bosons is increased, they separate and instead of forming a condensate they crystallize, acting more like their counterpart fermions. Experimentally, such behavior was shown this year to happen in one-dimension, now we predicted theoretically that it will happen in two-dimensions. Furthermore, through a straightforward extension of our method one could easily extend it to three-dimensions,” he said.
David Terraso | EurekAlert!
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