Molecular dynamics simulations of nucleation from vapor to solid composed of Lennard-Jones molecules

J Chem Phys. 2011 May 28;134(20):204313. doi: 10.1063/1.3593459.


We performed molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of nucleation from vapor at temperatures below the triple point for systems consisting of 10(4)-10(5) Lennard-Jones (L-J) type molecules in order to test nucleation theories at relatively low temperatures. Simulations are performed for a wide range of initial supersaturation ratio (S(0) ≃ 10-10(8)) and temperature (kT = 0.2-0.6ε), where ε and k are the depth of the L-J potential and the Boltzmann constant, respectively. Clusters are nucleated as supercooled liquid droplets because of their small size. Crystallization of the supercooled liquid nuclei is observed after their growth slows. The classical nucleation theory (CNT) significantly underestimates the nucleation rates (or the number density of critical clusters) in the low-T region. The semi-phenomenological (SP) model, which corrects the CNT prediction of the formation energy of clusters using the second virial coefficient of a vapor, reproduces the nucleation rate and the cluster size distributions with good accuracy in the low-T region, as well as in the higher-T cases considered in our previous study. The sticking probability of vapor molecules onto the clusters is also obtained in the present MD simulations. Using the obtained values of sticking probability in the SP model, we can further refine the accuracy of the SP model.