Dynamics of a first-order transition to an absorbing state
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Agranular system confined in a quasi-two-dimensional box that is vertically vibrated can transit to an absorbing state in which all particles bounce vertically in phase with the box, with no horizontal motion. In principle, this state can be reached for any density lower than the one corresponding to one complete monolayer, which is then the critical density. Below this critical value, the transition to the absorbing state is of first order, with long metastable periods, followed by rapid transitions driven by homogeneous nucleation. Molecular dynamics simulations and experiments show that there is a dramatic increase on the metastable times far below the critical density; in practice, it is impossible to observe spontaneous transitions close to the critical density. This peculiar feature is a consequence of the nonequilibrium nature of this first-order transition to the absorbing state. A Ginzburg-Landau model, with multiplicative noise, describes qualitatively the observed phenomena and explains the macroscopic size of the critical nuclei. The nuclei become of small size only close to a second critical point where the active phase becomes unstable via a saddle node bifurcation. It is only close to this second critical point that experiments and simulations can evidence spontaneous transitions to the absorbing state while the metastable times grow dramatically moving away from it.
Artículo de publicación ISI
DOI: DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.89.042206