Performance of some nucleation theories with a nonsharp droplet-vapor interface

Department of Physics, P.O. Box 64, University of Helsinki, Helsinki 00014, Finland.
The Journal of Chemical Physics (Impact Factor: 2.95). 10/2010; 133(15):154503. DOI: 10.1063/1.3502643
Source: PubMed


Nucleation theories involving the concept of nonsharp boundary between the droplet and vapor are compared to recent molecular dynamics (MD) simulation data of Lennard-Jones vapors at temperatures above the triple point. The theories are diffuse interface theory (DIT), extended modified liquid drop-dynamical nucleation theory (EMLD-DNT), square gradient theory (SGT), and density functional theory (DFT). Particular attention is paid to thermodynamic consistency in the comparison: the applied theories either use or, with a proper parameter adjustment, result in the same values of equilibrium vapor pressure, bulk liquid density, and surface tension as the MD simulations. Realistic pressure-density correlations are also used. The best agreement between the simulated nucleation rates and calculations is obtained from DFT, SGT, and EMLD-DNT, all of which, in the studied temperature range, show deviations of less than one order of magnitude in the nucleation rate. DIT underestimates the nucleation rate by up to two orders of magnitude. DFT and SGT give the best estimate of the molecular content of the critical nuclei. Overall, at the vapor conditions of this study, all the investigated theories perform better than classical nucleation theory in predicting nucleation rates.

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Jan Julin