Phase transition in an out-of-equilibrium monolayer of dipolar vibrated grains

Abstract : We report an experimental study on the transition between a disordered liquid-like state and a ordered solid-like one, in a collection of magnetically interacting macroscopic grains. A monolayer of magnetized particles is vibrated vertically at a moderate density. At high excitation a disordered, liquid-like state is observed. When the driving dimensionless acceleration Γ is quasi-statically reduced , clusters of ordered grains grow below a critical value Γc. These clusters have a well defined hexagonal and compact structure. If the driving is subsequently increased, these clusters remain stable up to a higher critical value Γ l. Thus, the solid-liquid transition exhibits an hysteresis cycle. However, the lower onset Γc is not well defined as it depends strongly on the acceleration ramp speed and also on the magnetic interaction strength. Metastability is observed when the driving is rapidly quenched from high acceleration, Γ > Γ l , to a low final excitation Γq. After this quench, solid clusters nucleate after a time lag τo, either immediately (τo = 0) or after some time lag (τo > 0) that can vary from seconds up to several hundreds of seconds. The immediate growth occurs below a particular acceleration value Γs (Γc). In all cases, for t ≥ τo solid cluster's temporal growth can be phenomenologically described by a stretched exponential law. Finally, by taking into account the finite size of our system and by using simple assumptions we propose an alternative tractable theoretical model that reproduces cluster's growth, but which analytical form is not a stretched exponential law.
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Physical Review E : Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics, American Physical Society, 2013, 87 (2), pp.22204. 〈10.1103/PhysRevE.87.022204〉
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Loreto Oyarte, Pablo Gutiérrez, Sébastien Aumaître, Nicolás Mujica. Phase transition in an out-of-equilibrium monolayer of dipolar vibrated grains. Physical Review E : Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics, American Physical Society, 2013, 87 (2), pp.22204. 〈10.1103/PhysRevE.87.022204〉. 〈cea-01444138〉

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