Equilibrium configurations of hard spheres in a cylindrical harmonic potential

J. Winkelmann, Adil Mughal, D. Weaire, S. Hutzler

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A line of hard spheres confined by a transverse harmonic potential, with hard walls at its ends, exhibits a variety of buckled structures as it is compressed longitudinally. Here we show that these may be conveniently observed in a rotating liquid-filled tube (originally introduced by Lee et al. (Adv. Mater., 29 (2017) 1704274) to assemble ordered three-dimensional structures at higher compressions). The corresponding theoretical model is transparent and easily investigated numerically, as well as by analytic approximations. Hence we explore a wide range of predicted structures occurring via bifurcation, of which the stable ones are also observed in our experiments. Qualitatively similar structures have previously been found in trapped ion systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number44002
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2019


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