Direct simulations of homogeneous bubble nucleation: Agreement with classical nucleation theory and no local hot spots

J Diemand and R Angelil and KK Tanaka and H Tanaka, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 90, 052407 (2014).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.90.052407

We present results from direct, large-scale molecular dynamics simulations of homogeneous bubble (liquid-to-vapor) nucleation. The simulations contain half a billion Lennard-Jones atoms and cover up to 56 million time steps. The unprecedented size of the simulated volumes allows us to resolve the nucleation and growth of many bubbles per run in simple direct micro-canonical simulations while the ambient pressure and temperature remain almost perfectly constant. We find bubble nucleation rates which are lower than in most of the previous, smaller simulations. It is widely believed that classical nucleation theory (CNT) generally underestimates bubble nucleation rates by very large factors. However, our measured rates are within two orders of magnitude of CNT predictions; only at very low temperatures does CNT underestimate the nucleation rate significantly. Introducing a small, positive Tolman length leads to very good agreement at all temperatures, as found in our recent vapor-to-liquid nucleation simulations. The critical bubbles sizes derived with the nucleation theorem agree well with the CNT predictions at all temperatures. Local hot spots reported in the literature are not seen: Regions where a bubble nucleation event will occur are not above the average temperature, and no correlation of temperature fluctuations with subsequent bubble formation is seen.

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