A variational approach to nucleation simulation

PM Piaggi and O Valsson and M Parrinello, FARADAY DISCUSSIONS, 195, 557-568 (2016).

DOI: 10.1039/c6fd00127k

We study by computer simulation the nucleation of a supersaturated Lennard-Jones vapor into the liquid phase. The large free energy barriers to transition make the time scale of this process impossible to study by ordinary molecular dynamics simulations. Therefore we use a recently developed enhanced sampling method Valsson and Parrinello, Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 090601 (2014) based on the variational determination of a bias potential. We differ from previous applications of this method in that the bias is constructed on the basis of the physical model provided by the classical theory of nucleation. We examine the technical problems associated with this approach. Our results are very satisfactory and will pave the way for calculating the nucleation rates in many systems.

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