Dynamics of topological defects in ion Coulomb crystals

H. L. Partner, R. Nigmatullin, T. Burgermeister, K. Pyka, J. Keller, A. Retzker, M. B. Plenio, T. E. Mehlstäubler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


We study experimentally and theoretically the properties of structural defects (kink solitons) in two-dimensional ion Coulomb crystals. We show how different types of kink solitons with different physical properties can be realized, and transformed from one type into another by varying the aspect ratio of the trap confinement. Further, we discuss how impurities in ion Coulomb crystals, such as mass defects, can modify the dynamics of kink creation and their stability. For both pure and impure crystals, the experimentally observed kink dynamics are analysed in detail and explained theoretically by numerical simulations and calculations of the Peierls-Nabarro potential. Finally, we demonstrate that static electric fields provide a handle to vary the influence of mass defects on kinks in a controlled way and allow for deterministic manipulation and creation of kinks.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number103013
JournalNew Journal of Physics
StatePublished - Oct 2013


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