Parametric decay induced first-order phase transition in two-dimensional Yukawa crystals

S Maity and G Arora, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 12, 20430 (2022).

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-24988-8

The melting process of two-dimensional (2D) Yukawa crystals for dusty plasma medium induced by external perturbations has been explored using molecular dynamics simulations. A 2D monolayer of particles interacting via Yukawa pair potential is formed in the presence of an external confinement potential. The confinement potential is a combined effect of the gravitational force and an externally applied electric force, which mimics the sheath electric field in dusty plasma experiments. The response of the 2D crystalline layer to an external perturbation is investigated. It is shown that transverse surface waves are generated below a particular threshold value of initial perturbation, but the crystalline order remains. However, above a threshold value of initial disturbance, the crystalline order structure of the 2D layer breaks, and it melts. The melting process is shown to be a first-order phase transition. We have demonstrated that the nonlinear amplitude modulation of initial disturbance through the parametric decay instability is responsible for the melting. Our proposed mechanism of first-order phase transition in the context of 2D dusty plasma crystal is distinctly different from the existing theoretical models. This research can provide a deeper understanding of the experimental observations in the context of plasma crystal.

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