, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 603–615

Dynamical signatures of ‘phase transitions’: Chaos in finite clusters


  • Vishal Mehra
    • School of Physical SciencesJawaharlal Nehru University
  • Saroj K Nayak
    • School of Physical SciencesJawaharlal Nehru University
    • Department of PhysicsVirginia Commonwealth University
  • Ramakrishna Ramaswamy
    • School of Physical SciencesJawaharlal Nehru University

DOI: 10.1007/BF02845664

Cite this article as:
Mehra, V., Nayak, S.K. & Ramaswamy, R. Pramana - J Phys (1997) 48: 603. doi:10.1007/BF02845664


Finite clusters of atoms or molecules, typically composed of about 50 particles (and often as few as 13 or even less) have proved to be useful prototypes of systems undergoing phase transitions. Analogues of the solid-liquid melting transition, surface melting, structural phase transitions and the glass transition have been observed in cluster systems. The methods of nonlinear dynamics can be applied to systems of this size, and these have helped elucidate the nature of the microscopic dynamics, which, as a function of internal energy (or ‘temperature’) can be in a solidlike, liquidlike, or even gaseous state. The Lyapunov exponents show a characteristic behaviour as a function of energy, and provide a reliable signature of the solid-liquid melting phase transition. The behaviour of such indices at other phase transitions has only partially been explored. These and related applications are reviewed in the present article.


Clusterschaosphase transitionsLyapunov exponents



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© the Indian Academy of Sciences 1997