Crystalline Order on a Sphere and the Generalized Thomson Problem

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

156 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

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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