Structure formation by electrostatic interactions in strongly coupled medium

M Yadav and P Deshwal and S Maity and A Das, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 107, 055214 (2023).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.107.055214

The formation of correlated structures is of importance in many diverse contexts such as strongly coupled plasmas, soft matter, and even biological mediums. In all these contexts the dynamics are mainly governed by electrostatic interactions and result in the formation of a variety of structures. In this study, the process of formation of structures is investigated with the help of molecular dynamics (MD) simulations in two and three dimensions. The overall medium has been modeled with an equal number of positive and negatively charged particles interacting via long-range pair Coulomb potential. A repulsive short-range Lennard-Jones (LJ) potential is added to take care of the blowing up of attractive Coulomb interaction between unlike charges. In the strongly coupled regime, a variety of classical bound states form. However, complete crystallization of the system, as typically observed in the context of one-component strongly coupled plasmas, does not occur. The influence of localized perturbation in the system has also been studied. The formation of a crystalline pattern of shielding clouds around this disturbance is observed. The spatial properties of the shielding structure have been analyzed using the radial distribution function and Voronoi diagram. The process of accumulation of oppositely charged particles around the disturbance triggers a lot of dynamic activity in the bulk of the medium. As a result of this, close encounters are possible even between those particles/clusters which were initially and/or at some point of time widely separated. This leads to the formation of a larger number of bigger clusters. There are, however, also instances when bound pairs break up and the electrons from bound pairs contribute to the shielding cloud, whereas ions bounce back into the bulk. A detailed discussion of these features has been provided in the manuscript.

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