Novel attractive force between ions in quantum plasmas

Shukla, Padma and Eliasson, Bengt (2012) Novel attractive force between ions in quantum plasmas. Physical Review Letters, 108 (16). 165007. ISSN 1079-7114 (

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We report a new attractive force between ions that are shielded by degenerate electrons in quantum plasmas. Specifically, we show that the electric potential around an isolated ion has a hard core negative part that resembles the Lennard-Jones–type potential. Physically, the new electric potential is attributed to the consideration of the quantum statistical pressure and the quantum Bohm potential, as well as the electron exchange and electron correlations due to electron-1/2 spin within the framework of the quantum hydrodynamical description of quantum plasmas. The shape of the attractive potential is determined by the ratio between the Bohr radius and the Wigner-Seitz radius of degenerate electrons. The existence of the hard core negative potential will be responsible for the attraction of ions forming lattices and atoms or molecules, as well as for critical points and phase transitions in quantum plasmas at nanoscales.