Densest local sphere-packing diversity: General concepts and application to two dimensions

Adam B. Hopkins, Frank H. Stillinger, Salvatore Torquato

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16 Scopus citations


The densest local packings of N identical nonoverlapping spheres within a radius Rmin (N) of a fixed central sphere of the same size are obtained using a nonlinear programming method operating in conjunction with a stochastic search of configuration space. The knowledge of Rmin (N) in d -dimensional Euclidean space Rd allows for the construction both of a realizability condition for pair-correlation functions of sphere packings and an upper bound on the maximal density of infinite sphere packings in Rd. In this paper, we focus on the two-dimensional circular disk problem. We find and present the putative densest packings and corresponding Rmin (N) for selected values of N up to N=348 and use this knowledge to construct such a realizability condition and an upper bound. We additionally analyze the properties and characteristics of the maximally dense packings, finding significant variability in their symmetries and contact networks, and that the vast majority differ substantially from the triangular lattice even for large N. Our work has implications for packaging problems, nucleation theory, and surface physics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number041305
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 20 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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