Studies on homogeneous nucleation have been conducted for decades, but a large gap between experiment and theory persists when evaluating the nucleation rate because the classical nucleation theory (CNT) with all its modifications still cannot fully incorporate the kinetics of homogeneous nucleation. Recent large-scale molecular dynamics (MD) simulations on homogeneous nucleation estimated a nucleation rate around the same order of magnitude as that obtained in experiments. This immensely improved agreement between experiment and theory is exciting because MD can provide detailed information on molecular trajectories. Therefore, a better understanding of the kinetics of homogeneous nucleation can now be obtained. In this study, large-scale MD simulations on homogeneous nucleation were performed. Through kinetic analysis of the simulation results, the nucleation rate, free energy barrier, and critical cluster size were found. Although the nucleation rates directly obtained from the simulations differed from those calculated from the CNT by 8-13 orders of magnitude, when the parameters calculated from the molecular trajectories were substituted into the classical theory, the discrepancy between the nucleation rates decreased to within an order of magnitude. This proves that the fundamental formulation of the theoretical equation is physically sound. We also calculated the cluster formation free energy and confirmed that the free energy barrier decreases with increasing supersaturation ratio. The estimated barrier height was twice that determined by theory, whereas the critical cluster size showed very good agreement between simulation and theory.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry