Critical phenomena and phase sequence in classical bilayer Wigner crystal at zero temperature

L. Samaj 1, E. Trizac 1

Physical Review B (Condensed Matter) 85 (2012) 205131

We study the ground-state properties of a system of identical classical Coulombic point particles, evenly distributed between two equivalently charged parallel plates at distance $d$; the system as a whole is electroneutral. It was previously shown that upon increasing d from 0 to infinity, five different structures of the bilayer Wigner crystal become energetically favored, starting from a hexagonal lattice (phase I, d=0) and ending at a staggered hexagonal lattice (phase V, d -> infinity). In this paper, we derive new series representations of the ground-state energy for all five bilayer structures. The derivation is based on a sequence of transformations for lattice sums of Coulomb two-particle potentials plus the neutralizing background, having their origin in the general theory of Jacobi theta functions. The new series provide convenient starting points for both analytical and numerical progress. Its convergence properties are indeed excellent: Truncation at the fourth term determines in general the energy correctly up to 17 decimal digits. The accurate series representations are used to improve the specification of transition points between the phases and to solve a controversy in previous studies. In particular, it is shown both analytically and numerically that the hexagonal phase I is stable only at d=0, and not in a finite interval of small distances between the plates as was anticipated before. The expansions of the structure energies around second-order transition points can be done analytically, which enables us to show that the critical behavior is of the Ginzburg-Landau type, with a mean-field critical index beta=1/2 for the growth of the order parameters.

  • 1. Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques (LPTMS),
    CNRS : UMR8626 – Université Paris XI - Paris Sud