An ellipsoid, the simplest nonspherical shape, has been extensively used as a model for elongated building blocks for a wide spectrum of molecular, colloidal, and granular systems. Yet the densest packing of congruent hard ellipsoids, which is intimately related to the high-density phase of many condensed matter systems, is still an open problem. We discover an unusual family of dense crystalline packings of self-dual ellipsoids (ratios of the semiaxes α:α:1), containing 24 particles with a quasi-square-triangular (SQ-TR) tiling arrangement in the fundamental cell. The associated packing density φ exceeds that of the densest known SM2 crystal [A. Donev, Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 255506 (2004)10.1103/PhysRevLett.92.255506] for aspect ratios α in (1.365, 1.5625), attaining a maximal φ≈0.75806... at α=93/64. We show that the SQ-TR phase derived from these dense packings is thermodynamically stable at high densities over the aforementioned α range and report a phase diagram for self-dual ellipsoids. The discovery of the SQ-TR crystal suggests organizing principles for nonspherical particles and self-assembly of colloidal systems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
- Statistics and Probability
- Condensed Matter Physics