Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dislocation reactions, grain boundaries, and irreversibility in two-dimensional lattices using topological tweezers

William T. M. Irvine, Andrew D. Hollingsworth, David G. Grier, and Paul M. Chaikin

Dislocations, disclinations, and grain boundaries are topological excitations of crystals that play a key role in determining out-of-equilibrium material properties. In this article we study the kinetics, creation, and annihilation processes of these defects in a controllable way by applying “topological tweezers,” an array of weak optical tweezers which strain the lattice by weakly pulling on a collection of particles without grabbing them individually. We use topological tweezers to deterministically control individual dislocations and grain boundaries, and reversibly create and destroy dislocation pairs in a 2D crystal of charged colloids. Starting from a perfect lattice, we exert a torque on a finite region and follow the complete step-by-step creation of a disoriented grain, from the creation of dislocation pairs through their reactions to form a grain boundary and their reduction of elastic energy. However, when the grain is rotated back to its original orientation the dislocation reactions do not retrace. Rather, the process is irreversible; the grain boundary expands instead of collapsing.
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