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Title: Dynamical processes of interstitial diffusion in a two-dimensional colloidal crystal

In two-dimensional (2D) solids, point defects, i.e., vacancies and interstitials, are bound states of topological defects of edge dislocations and disclinations. They are expected to play an important role in the thermodynamics of the system. Yet very little is known about the detailed dynamical processes of these defects. Two-dimensional colloidal crystals of submicrometer microspheres provide a convenient model solid system in which the microscopic dynamics of these defects can be studied in real time using video microscopy. Here we report a study of the dynamical processes of interstitials in a 2D colloidal crystal. The diffusion constants of both mono- and diinterstitials are measured and found to be significantly larger than those of vacancies. Diinterstitials are clearly slower than monointerstitials. We found that, by plotting the accumulative positions of five- and sevenfold disclinations relative to the center-of-mass position of the defect, a sixfold symmetric pattern emerges for monointerstitials. This is indicative of an equilibrium behavior that satisfies local detailed balance that the lattice remains elastic and can be thermally excited between lattice configurations reversibly. However, for diinterstitials the sixfold symmetry is not observed in the same time window, and the local lattice distortions are too severe to recover quickly. This observation more » suggests a possible route to creating local melting of a lattice (similarly one can create local melting by creating divacancies). This work opens up an avenue for microscopic studies of the dynamics of melting in colloidal model systems.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 13220-13226
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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