Theory of domain patterns in systems with long-range interactions of Coulomb type

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We develop a theory of the domain patterns in systems with competing short-range attractive interactions and long-range repulsive Coulomb interactions. We take an energetic approach, in which patterns are considered as critical points of a mean-field free energy functional. Close to the microphase separation transition, this functional takes on a universal form, allowing us to treat a number of diverse physical situations within a unified framework. We use asymptotic analysis to study domain patterns with sharp interfaces. We derive an interfacial representation of the pattern’s free energy which remains valid in the fluctuating system, with a suitable renormalization of the Coulomb interaction’s coupling constant. We also derive integro-differential equations describing stationary domain patterns of arbitrary shapes and their thermodynamic stability, coming from the first and second variations of the interfacial free energy. We show that the length scale of a stable domain pattern must obey a certain scaling law with the strength of the Coulomb interaction. We analyzed the existence and stability of localized (spots, stripes, annuli) and periodic (lamellar, hexagonal) patterns in two dimensions. We show that these patterns are metastable in certain ranges of the parameters and that they can undergo morphological instabilities leading to the formation of more complex patterns. We discuss nucleation of the domain patterns by thermal fluctuations and pattern formation scenarios for various thermal quenches. We argue that self-induced disorder is an intrinsic property of the domain patterns in the systems under consideration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25
Number of pages1
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical Physics, Plasmas, Fluids, and Related Interdisciplinary Topics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 10 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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