Monte Carlo simulation study of droplet nucleation

Alexander V. Neimark, Aleksey Vishnyakov

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36 Scopus citations


A new rigorous Monte Carlo simulation approach is employed to study nucleation barriers for droplets in Lennard-Jones fluid. Using the gauge cell method we generate the excess isotherm of critical clusters in the size range from two to six molecular diameters. The ghost field method is employed to compute the cluster free energy and the nucleation barrier with desired precision of (1-2) kT. Based on quantitative results obtained by Monte Carlo simulations, we access the limits of applicability of the capillarity approximation of the classical nucleation theory and the Tolman equation. We show that the capillarity approximation corrected for vapor nonideality and liquid compressibility provides a reasonable assessment for the size of critical clusters in Lennard-Jones fluid; however, its accuracy is not sufficient to predict the nucleation barriers for making practical estimates of the rate of nucleation. The established dependence of the droplet surface tension on the droplet size cannot be approximated by the Tolman equation for small droplets of radius less than four molecular diameters. We confirm the conclusion of ten Wolde and Frenkel [J. Chem. Phys. 109, 9901 (1998)] that integration of the normal component of the Irving-Kirkwood pressure tensor severely underestimates the nucleation barriers for small clusters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number174508
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number17
StatePublished - May 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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