Condensed Matter Physics Models for Molecular and Nuclear Physics
A number of mesoscale condensed matter physics systems may provide useful models for understanding phenomena that occur on smaller length scales. Examples include studying the microscopic dynamics of open problems in the glass transition by means of disordered colloidal particle assemblies. Here we consider a system of colloids with competing repulsive and attractive interactions, which shows a remarkable variety of novel cluster, stripe, and crystalline phases. In the cluster phase, magic cluster sizes appear for certain numbers of particles that form highly symmetric and stable structures. When the particle interactions are varied dynamically, the cluster can decay through a variety of different fission modes, with the magic clusters having a smaller number of decay modes. For large clusters, the decay can occur via a multiple step process with the surface decaying in one mode while the center decays in another. We also discuss other colloidal systems that could be used to model phase separation and bursting behaviors of systems with crystalline surfaces such as neutron stars.