Intermittent dynamics and logarithmic domain growth during the spinodal decomposition of a glass-forming liquid

V Testard and L Berthier and W Kob, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 140, 164502 (2014).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4871624

We use large-scale molecular dynamics simulations of a simple glass- forming system to investigate how its liquid-gas phase separation kinetics depends on temperature. A shallow quench leads to a fully demixed liquid-gas system whereas a deep quench makes the dense phase undergo a glass transition and become an amorphous solid. This glass has a gel-like bicontinuous structure that evolves very slowly with time and becomes fully arrested in the limit where thermal fluctuations become negligible. We show that the phase separation kinetics changes qualitatively with temperature, the microscopic dynamics evolving from a surface tension-driven diffusive motion at high temperature to a strongly intermittent, heterogeneous, and thermally activated dynamics at low temperature, with a logarithmically slow growth of the typical domain size. These results elucidate the microscopic mechanisms underlying a specific class of viscoelastic phase separation. (C) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.

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