Microscopics of fluctuations of the energy of atoms in solids
Internal atomic-molecular vibrational dynamics of solids gives rise to short-lived localised states of atoms with a much higher energy or amplitude of vibrations, i.e., it gives rise to fluctuations. These fluctuations play the dominant role in a variety of physical processes, which include diffusion, evaporation, plastic deformation, highly elastic deformation of polymers, fracture, chemical reactions, electronic transi-tions, biological functions, and many others. The essentials of the fluctuation origin of these processes are given in the classical papers of Ya I Frenkel’. The microscopics of fluctuations of the energy of atoms has begun to develop successfully. The present paper provides a brief historical introduction, which is followed by the first results (obtained by computer simulation) that can account for the detailed characteristics of fluctuations: the lifetime of a fluctuation state of atoms, the size of a fluctuation region, and migration of fluctuations. Special attention is given to the mechanism of formation of energy fluctuations. Investigations of fluctuation dynamics in condensed media, regarded as a new and to some extent independent part of the physics of liquids and solids, have been given a decisive start by the fundamental work of Yakov Il’ich Frenkel’. He began his investigations back in the twenties and continued them with outstanding success throughout his life. The study reported below represents the attempt by the present authors to continue the development of the fruitful ideas of Yakov Il’ich.