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Equilibrium between a Droplet and Surrounding Vapor: A Discussion of Finite Size Effects

In a theoretical description of homogeneous nucleation one frequently assumes an “equilibrium” coexistence of a liquid droplet with surrounding vapor of a density exceeding that of a saturated vapor at bulk vapor–liquid two-phase coexistence. Thereby one ignores the caveat that in the thermodynamic limit, for which the vapor would be called supersaturated, such states will at best be metastable with finite lifetime, and thus not be well-defined within equilibrium statistical mechanics. In contrast, in a system of finite volume stable equilibrium coexistence of droplet and supersaturated vapor at constant total density is perfectly possible, and numerical analysis of equilibrium free energies of finite systems allows to obtain physically relevant results. In particular, such an analysis can be used to derive the dependence of the droplet surface tension γ(R) on the droplet radius R by computer simulations. Unfortunately, however, the precision of the results produced by this approach turns out to be seriou...

Authors:   Andreas Tröster; Fabian Schmitz; Peter Virnau; Kurt Binder
Journal:   Journal of Physical Chemistry B
Year:   2018
DOI:   10.1021/acs.jpcb.7b10392
Publication date:   10-Jan-2018
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