Fractures and crack propagation

The intermittent and self-similar fluctuations displayed by a slow crack during the propagation in a heterogeneous medium can be quantitatively described by an extension of a classical statistical model for fracture. The model yields the correct dynamical and morphological scaling, and allows to demonstrate that the scale invariance originates from the presence of a non-equilibrium, reversible, critical transition which, in the presence of dissipation, gives rise to self-organized critical behaviour.… Read the rest

Disorder driven non-equilibrium phase transition: the Random field Ising model

In hard magnetic materials, the domain walls movement or even creation is suppressed, and other mechanisms, like domains nucleation and coherent spin rotation enter in the process of magnetization reversal. For these kind of materials a description in terms of spin models is more appropriate. We focused on the non-equilibrium properties of the random field Ising model (RFIM), to describe the competition between quenched disorder and exchange interactions and their effect on the hysteretic behavior.… Read the rest

Metastable states and supersymmetry

Both the static and the dynamical behaviour occurring in mean field spin glass models models can be interpreted as consequences of the complex (free) energy landscape that spin glasses have, with many minima, valleys and saddles. Traditionally, much attention has been devoted in the past to the analysis of absolute minima, i.e. equilibrium states. More recently, we have understood that also metastable states, i.e.… Read the rest

Field theory for finite dimensional spin glasses

Many features predicted by mean field spin glass models, such as the behaviour of susceptibilities and correlation functions or the occurrence of aging and off-equilibrium dynamics, are qualitatively observed in experiments, suggesting that the mean field scenario may hold for finite dimensional systems also. To investigate this hypothesis a field theory for the fluctuations around the mean field solution has been developed.… Read the rest

The growth of amorphous order in supercooled liquids

Close to the glass transition supercooled liquids display an impressive increase of the relaxation time, without any clear sign of growing thermodynamic order, nor correlation length. This is at variance with physical intuition, which suggests that a large relaxation time is always associated to a large correlation length. Even though dynamical length scales were introduced and measured, nothing similar was thought to be possible for thermodynamic lengths.… Read the rest

Crackling noise: the Barkhausen effect

The term “crackling noise” refers to the signal that some disordered systems produce as a response to an external driving field smoothly changing in time. Due to the presence of disorder, crackling signals are extremely irregular, despite the steady increase of the external forcing. They are typically characterized by a sequence of pulses of very different sizes and durations, separated by quiescence intervals.… Read the rest

Dynamic hysteresis in thin and ultra-thin films

The physics of thin and ultra-thin magnetic films has been extensively studied in the recent past, because of its important implications for applications to high frequency devices. Power losses in ferromagnetic materials generally depend on the frequency of the applied field, a phenomenon referred to as dynamic hysteresis. The problem has great importance from a purely theoretical point of view, for the understanding of the dynamics of disordered magnetic systems, which represents a central issue in non–equilibrium statistical mechanics.… Read the rest

Random Lasers

In a nutshell, a random laser is the coherent emission from active stochastic resonators.

In a series of articles around 1966, a Russian scientist V. S. Letokhov, of the Lebedev Physics Institute in Dubna considered the generation of light in the interstellar medium. In the presence of scatterers, as for example dust particles, photons diffuse like neutrons and, if some mechanism (following Letokhov a “negative absorption”) is able to increase their number, a sort of photonic reactor can be realized.… Read the rest

Spin Glasses: a brief introduction

Spin Glasses are dilute magnetic alloys where the interactions between spins are randomly ferromagnetic or anti-ferromagnetic, and are considered as paradigmatic examples of frozen disorder. The presence of disorder (the random interactions) induces frustration and a greater difficulty for the system to find optimal configurations. As a consequence, these systems exhibit non trivial thermodynamic and dynamic properties, different and richer than those observed in their non disordered counterpart.… Read the rest