Thermodynamic analysis of the stability of planar interfaces between coexisting phases and its application to supercooled water

RS Singh and JC Palmer and AZ Panagiotopoulos and PG Debenedetti, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 150, 224503 (2019).

DOI: 10.1063/1.5097591

Two-phase simulations are commonly used to evaluate coexistence conditions, interfacial tensions, and other thermodynamic properties associated with first-order phase transitions. Calculation of these properties is often simplified when the interfaces between the two phases are flat or planar. Here, we derive a general thermodynamic criterion for selecting simulation cell dimensions to stabilize planar interfaces in phase-separated fluid-fluid systems with respect to homogeneous, single-phase states. The resulting expression is validated by analyzing the effects of simulation cell dimensions on the formation of planar liquid-vapor interfaces in the Lennard-Jones fluid and in the TIP4P/2005 model of water. We also perform large scale molecular dynamics simulations to study metastable liquid-liquid phase separation in the ST2 and TIP4P/2005 models of water under deeply supercooled conditions. Our simulations confirm the stability of a liquid-liquid interface in ST2, and they demonstrate that the corresponding interface for TIP4P/2005 can be stabilized by judiciously choosing the simulation cell aspect ratio in a manner consistent with the thermodynamic criterion. We posit that this sensitivity to the simulation cell aspect ratio may explain discrepancies between previous studies examining liquid-liquid separation in models of supercooled water.

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