The effect of substrate on thermodynamic and kinetic anisotropies in atomic thin films

A Haji-Akbari and PG Debenedetti, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 141, 024506 (2014).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4885365

Glasses have a wide range of technological applications. The recent discovery of ultrastable glasses that are obtained by depositing the vapor of a glass-forming liquid onto the surface of a cold substrate has sparked renewed interest in the effects of confinements on physicochemical properties of liquids and glasses. Here, we use molecular dynamics simulations to study the effect of substrate on thin films of a model glass-forming liquid, the Kob-Andersen binary Lennard- Jones system, and compute profiles of several thermodynamic and kinetic properties across the film. We observe that the substrate can induce large oscillations in profiles of thermodynamic properties such as density, composition, and stress, and we establish a correlation between the oscillations in total density and the oscillations in normal stress. We also demonstrate that the kinetic properties of an atomic film can be readily tuned by changing the strength of interactions between the substrate and the liquid. Most notably, we show that a weakly attractive substrate can induce the emergence of a highly mobile region in its vicinity. In this highly mobile region, structural relaxation is several times faster than in the bulk, and the exploration of the potential energy landscape is also more efficient. In the subsurface region near a strongly attractive substrate, however, the dynamics is decelerated and the sampling of the potential energy landscape becomes less efficient than the bulk. We explain these two distinct behaviors by establishing a correlation between the oscillations in kinetic properties and the oscillations in lateral stress. Our findings offer interesting opportunities for designing better substrates for the vapor deposition process or developing alternative procedures for situations where vapor deposition is not feasible. (C) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.

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