Crystalline Order on a Sphere and the Generalized Thomson Problem

M. Bowick, A. Cacciuto, D. R. Nelson, A. Travesset

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

117 Scopus citations


We attack the generalized Thomson problem, i.e., determining the ground state energy and configuration of many particles interacting via an arbitrary repulsive pairwise potential on a sphere via a continuum mapping onto a universal long range interaction between angular disclination defects parametrized by the elastic (Young) modulus [Formula presented] of the underlying lattice and the core energy [Formula presented] of an isolated disclination. Predictions from the continuum theory for the ground state energy agree with numerical simulations of long range power law interactions of the form [Formula presented] ([Formula presented]) to four significant figures. The generality of our approach is illustrated by a study of grain boundary proliferation for tilted crystalline order and square lattices on the sphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number18
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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