Condensed Matter Physics, 2006, vol. 9, No. 2(46), p. 305-317, English

Title: Effects of aerogel-like disorder on the critical behavior of O(m)-vector models. Recent simulations and experimental evidence
  C.Vásquez (Departamento de Física, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Apartado 89000, Caracas 1080A, Venezuela) ,
  R.Paredes (Centro de Física, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Apartado 21827, Caracas 1020A, Venezuela;
Particle Technology Group, Delft University of Technology, Jualianalaan 136, 2628 BL Delft, The Netherlands)

We review recent results on the effect of a specific type of quenched disorder on well known O(m)-vector models in three dimensions: the XY model (3DXY, m=2) and the Ising model (3DIS, m=1). Evidence of changes of criticality in both systems, when confined in aerogel pores, is briefly referenced. The 3DXY model represents the universality class to which the λ-transition of bulk superfluid 4He belongs. Experiments report interesting changes of critical exponents for this transition, when superfluid 4He is confined in aerogels. Numerical evidence has also been presented that the 3DXY model, confined in aerogel-like structures, exhibits critical exponents different from those of bulk, in agreement with experiments. Both results seem to contradict Harris criterion: being the specific heat exponent negative for the pure system (α3DXY≈-0.011<0), changes should be explained in terms of the extended criterion due to Weinrib and Halperin, which requires disorder to be long-range correlated (LRC) at all scales. In numerical works, aerogels are simulated by the diffusion limited cluster-cluster aggregation (DLCA) algorithm, known to mimic the geometric features of aerogels. These objects, real or simulated, are fractal through some decades only, and present crossovers to homogeneous regimes at finite scales, so the violation to Harris criterion persists. The apparent violation has been explained in terms of hidden LRC subsets within aerogels [Phys. Rev. Lett., 2003, 90, 170602]. On the other hand, experiments on the liquid-vapor (LV) transition of 4He and N2 confined in aerogels, also showed changes in critical-point exponents. Being the LV critical-point in the O(1) universality class, criticality may be affected by both short-range correlated (SRC) and LRC subsets of disorder. Simulations of the 3DIS in DLCA aerogels can corroborate experimental results. Both experiments and simulations suggest a shift in critical exponents to values closer to the SRC instead of those of the LRC fixed point.

Key words: phase transitions, vector models, correlated disorder, aerogels
PACS: 64.60.Cn, 64.60.Fr, 64.70.-p

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