Equilibrium configurations and energetics of point defects in two-dimensional colloidal crystals

Phys Rev Lett. 2001 Aug 27;87(9):098303. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.87.098303. Epub 2001 Aug 13.


We demonstrate a novel method of introducing point defects (mono- and divacancies) in a confined monolayer colloidal crystal by manipulating individual particles with optical tweezers. Digital video microscopy is used to study defect dynamics in real space and time. We verify the numerical predictions that the stable configurations of the defects have reduced symmetry compared to the triangular lattice and discover that in addition they are characterized by distinct topological arrangements of the particles in the defect core. Surprisingly, point defects are thermally excited into separated dislocations, from which we extract the dislocation pair potential.