Breaking a one-dimensional chain: Fracture in 1+1 dimensions

Eugene B. Kolomeisky, Joseph P. Straley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The breaking rate of an atomic chain stretched at zero temperature by a constant force can be calculated in a quasiclassical approximation by finding the localized solutions (“bounces”) of the equations of classical dynamics in imaginary time. We show that this theory is related to the critical cracks of stressed solids, because the world lines of the atoms in the chain form a two-dimensional crystal and the bounce is a crack configuration in (unstable) mechanical equilibrium. Thus the tunneling time, action, and breaking rate in the limit of small forces are determined by the classical results of Griffith. For the limit of large forces we give an exact bounce solution that describes the quantum fracture and classical crack close to the limit of mechanical stability. This limit can be viewed as a critical phenomenon for which we establish a Levanyuk-Ginzburg criterion of the weakness of fluctuations and propose a scaling argument for the critical regime. The post-tunneling dynamics is understood by the analytic continuation of the bounce solutions to real time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-307
Number of pages7
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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