Step Fluctuations for a Faceted Crystal


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Abstract

A statistical mechanics model for a faceted crystal is the 3D Ising model at zero temperature. It is assumed that in one octant all sites are occupied by atoms, the remaining ones being empty. Allowed atom configurations are such that they can be obtained from the filled octant through successive removals of atoms with breaking of precisely three bonds. If V denotes the number of atoms removed, then the grand canonical Boltzmann weight is qV, 0<q<1. As shown by Cerf and Kenyon, in the limit q→1 a deterministic shape is attained, which has the three facets (100), (010), (001), and a rounded piece interpolating between them. We analyse the step statistics as q→1. In the rounded piece it is given by a determinantal process based on the discrete sine-kernel. Exactly at the facet edge, the steps have more space to meander. Their statistics is again determinantal, but this time based on the Airy-kernel. In particular, the border step is well approximated by the Airy process, which has been obtained previously in the context of growth models. Our results are based on the asymptotic analysis for space-time inhomogeneous transfer matrices.

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