Trapping of topological-structural defects in coulomb crystals

M. Mielenz, J. Brox, S. Kahra, G. Leschhorn, M. Albert, T. Schaetz, H. Landa, B. Reznik

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We study experimentally and theoretically structural defects which are formed during the transition from a laser cooled cloud to a Coulomb crystal, consisting of tens of ions in a linear radio frequency trap. We demonstrate the creation of predicted topological defects ("kinks") in purely two-dimensional crystals and also find kinks which show novel dynamical features in a regime of parameters not considered before. The kinks are always observed at the center of the trap, showing a large nonlinear localized excitation, and the probability of their occurrence saturates at ∼0.5. Simulations reveal a strong anharmonicity of the kink's internal mode of vibration, due to the kink's extension into three dimensions. As a consequence, the periodic Peierls-Nabarro potential experienced by a discrete kink becomes a globally confining potential, capable of trapping one cooled defect at the center of the crystal.

Original languageEnglish
Article number133004
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number13
StatePublished - 28 Mar 2013


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