In colloidal crystals of spheres, dislocation motion is unrestricted. On the other hand, recent studies of relaxation in crystals of colloidal dimer particles have demonstrated that the dislocation dynamics in such crystals are reminiscent of glassy systems. The observed glassy dynamics arise as a result of dislocation cages formed by certain dimer orientations. In the current study, we use experiments and simulations to investigate the transition that arises when a pure sphere crystal is doped with an increasing concentration of dimers. Specifically, we focus on both dislocation caging and vacancy motion. Interestingly, we find that any nonzero fraction of dimers introduces finite dislocation cages, suggesting that glassy dynamics are present for any mixed crystal. However, we have also identified a vacancy-mediated uncaging mechanism for releasing dislocations from their cages. This mechanism is dependent on vacancy diffusion, which slows by orders of magnitude as the dimer concentration is increased. We propose that in mixed crystals with low dimer concentrations vacancy diffusion is fast enough to uncage dislocations and delay the onset of glassy dislocation dynamics.
© 2010 American Physical Society
S. J. Gerbode, D. Ong, C. Liddell, and I. Cohen, “Dislocations and vacancies in 2D mixed crystals of spheres and dimers” Phys. Rev. E 82, 041404 (2010). doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.82.041404