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A dynamical theory of homogeneous nucleation for colloids and macromolecules

By James F. Lutsko


Homogeneous nucleation is formulated within the context of fluctuating hydrodynamics. It is shown that for a colloidal or macromolecular system in the strong damping limit the most likely path for nucleation can be determined by gradient descent in density space governed by a nontrivial metric fixed by the dynamics. The theory provides a justification and extension of more heuristic equilibrium approaches based solely on the free energy. It is illustrated by application to liquid-vapor nucleation where it is shown that, in contrast to most free energy-based studies, the smallest clusters correspond to long wavelength, small amplitude perturbations.Comment: final version; 4 pages, 2 figure

Topics: Condensed Matter - Soft Condensed Matter, Physics - Chemical Physics
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1063/1.3657400
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