The antisymmetry of distortions

Brian K. Vanleeuwen, Venkatraman Gopalan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Distortions are ubiquitous in nature. Under perturbations such as stresses, fields or other changes, a physical system reconfigures by following a path from one state to another; this path, often a collection of atomic trajectories, describes a distortion. Here we introduce an antisymmetry operation called distortion reversal that reverses a distortion pathway. The symmetry of a distortion pathway is then uniquely defined by a distortion group; it has the same form as a magnetic group that involves time reversal. Given its isomorphism to magnetic groups, distortion groups could have a commensurate impact in the study of distortions, as the magnetic groups have had in the study of magnetic structures. Distortion symmetry has important implications for a range of phenomena such as structural and electronic phase transitions, diffusion, molecular conformational changes, vibrations, reaction pathways and interface dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8818
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Nov 17 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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