The experimental melting transition of finite two-dimensional dust clusters in a dusty plasma is analyzed using the method of instantaneous normal modes. In the experiment, dust clusters are heated in a thermodynamic equilibrium from a solid to a liquid state using a four-axis laser manipulation system. The fluid properties of the dust cluster, such as the diffusion constant, are measured from the instantaneous normal mode analysis. Thereby, the phase transition of these finite clusters is approached from the liquid phase. From the diffusion constants, unique melting temperatures have been assigned to dust clusters of various sizes that very well reflect their dynamical stability properties.
- Received 9 February 2012
© 2012 American Physical Society