Simulation of the zero-temperature behavior of a three-dimensional elastic medium

David McNamara, A. A. Middleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We have performed numerical simulation of a three-dimensional elastic medium, with scalar displacements, subject to quenched disorder. In the absence of topological defects this system is equivalent to a (Formula presented)-dimensional interface subject to a periodic pinning potential. We have applied an efficient combinatorial optimization algorithm to generate exact ground states for this interface representation. Our results indicate that this Bragg glass is characterized by power law divergences in the structure factor (Formula presented) We have found numerically consistent values of the coefficient A for two lattice discretizations of the medium, supporting universality for A in the isotropic systems considered here. We also examine the response of the ground state to the change in boundary conditions that corresponds to introducing a single dislocation loop encircling the system. The rearrangement of the ground state caused by this change is equivalent to the domain wall of elastic deformations which span the dislocation loop. Our results indicate that these domain walls are highly convoluted, with a fractal dimension (Formula presented) We also discuss the implications of the domain wall energetics for the stability of the Bragg glass phase. Elastic excitations similar to these domain walls arise when the pinning potential is slightly perturbed. As in other disordered systems, perturbations of relative strength δ introduce a new length scale (Formula presented) beyond which the perturbed ground state becomes uncorrelated with the reference (unperturbed) ground state. We have performed a scaling analysis of the response of the ground state to the perturbations and obtain (Formula presented) This value is consistent with the scaling relation (Formula presented) where θ characterizes the scaling of the energy fluctuations of low energy excitations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10062-10069
Number of pages8
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number14
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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