Wednesday, November 14, 2012

1211.2976 (Ariel Haziot et al.)

The giant plasticity of a quantum crystal    [PDF]

Ariel Haziot, Xavier Rojas, Andrew D. Fefferman, John R. Beamish, Sébastien Balibar
When submitted to large stresses at high temperature, usual crystals may irreversibly deform. This phenomenon is known as plasticity and it is due to the motion of crystal defects such as dislocations. We have discovered that, in the absence of impurities and in the zero temperature limit, helium 4 crystals present a giant plasticity that is anisotropic and reversible. Direct measurements on oriented single crystals show that their resistance to shear nearly vanishes in one particular direction because dislocations glide freely parallel to the basal planes of the hexagonal structure. This plasticity disappears as soon as traces of helium 3 impurities bind to the dislocations or if their motion is damped by collisions with thermal phonons.
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