Volume 87, Number 6, September 2009
Article Number 66003
Number of page(s) 6
Section Condensed Matter: Structural, Mechanical and Thermal Properties
Published online 12 October 2009
EPL, 87 (2009) 66003
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/87/66003

Defect formation during a continuous phase transition

A. D. Pezzutti1, 2, L. R. Gómez1, M. A. Villar2 and D. A. Vega1

1   Department of Physics and Instituto de Física del Sur, IFISUR (UNS-CONICET) Além 1253, 8000 Bahía Blanca, Argentina
2   Planta Piloto de Ingeniería Química, PLAPIQUI (UNS-CONICET) - Bahía Blanca, Argentina

received 27 July 2009; accepted in final form 9 September 2009; published September 2009
published online 12 October 2009

We study the process of defect formation during a continuous phase transition in an off-critical system. We focus on the spinodal-assisted nucleation regime, where the continuous amplification of density fluctuations induces the pseudo-nucleation of the equilibrium phase. The collision of the different propagating domains produces a domain structure with average domain size and density of defects strongly dependent on the cooling rate. The distribution of the topological defects is in good agreement with the cosmological Kibble-Zurek model proposed to determine the creation of topological defects during a symmetry-breaking phase transition.

64.60.Bd - General theory of phase transitions.
61.72.Bb - Theories and models of crystal defects.
98.80.Cq - Particle-theory and field-theory of the early Universe (including cosmic pancakes, cosmic strings, chaotic phenomena, inflationary universe, etc.).

© EPLA 2009