Structure, dynamics and bifurcations of discrete solitons in trapped ion crystals

H. Landa*, B. Reznik, J. Brox, M. Mielenz, T. Schaetz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


We study discrete solitons (kinks) accessible in the state-of-the-art trapped ion experiments, considering zigzag crystals and quasi-three-dimensional configurations, both theoretically and experimentally. We first extend the theoretical understanding of different phenomena predicted and recently experimentally observed in the structure and dynamics of these topological excitations. Employing tools from topological degree theory, we analyze bifurcations of crystal configurations in dependence on the trapping parameters, and investigate the formation of kink configurations and the transformations of kinks between different structures. This allows us to accurately define and calculate the effective potential experienced by solitons within the Wigner crystal, and study how this (so-called Peierls-Nabarro) potential gets modified to a non-periodic globally trapping potential in certain parameter regimes. The kinks' rest mass (energy) and spectrum of modes are computed and the dynamics of linear and nonlinear kink oscillations are analyzed. We also present novel, experimentally observed, configurations of kinks incorporating a large-mass defect realized by an embedded molecular ion, and of pairs of interacting kinks stable for long times, offering the perspective for exploring and exploiting complex collective nonlinear excitations, controllable on the quantum level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number093003
JournalNew Journal of Physics
StatePublished - Sep 2013


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