Influence of the glass transition on the liquid-gas spinodal decomposition

Phys Rev Lett. 2011 Mar 25;106(12):125702. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.106.125702. Epub 2011 Mar 24.


We use large-scale molecular dynamics simulations to study the kinetics of the liquid-gas phase separation if the temperature is lowered across the glass transition of the dense phase. We observe a gradual change from phase separated systems at high temperatures to nonequilibrium, gel-like structures that evolve very slowly at low temperatures. The microscopic mechanisms responsible for the coarsening strongly depend on temperature, and change from diffusive motion at high temperature to a strongly intermittent, heterogeneous, and thermally activated dynamics at low temperature, leading to logarithmically slow growth of the typical domain size.