Finger formation in a driven diffusive system
Boal, D. H.
Zia, R. K. P.
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A driven diffusive lattice gas is studied in a rectangular geometry: particles are fed in at one side and extracted at the other, after being swept through the system by a uniform driving field. Being periodic in the transverse direction, the lattice lies on the surface of a cylinder. The resulting nonequilibrium steady state depends strongly on this choice of boundary conditions. Both Monte Carlo and analytic techniques are employed to investigate the structure of typical configurations, the density profile, the steady-state current, and the nearest-neighbor correlations. As the temperature is lowered in a finite system, the simulations indicate a crossover from a disordered to an ordered state that is characterized by a backgammonlike pattern of alternating high- and low-density regions ("fingers"). For fixed strengths of the field and interparticle attraction, the average number of fingers is controlled by the ratio of the transverse to the longitudinal system size. Whether the crossover corresponds to an actual phase transition, where typical thermodynamic observables become singular, remains to be determined.