Energy dependent decay rates of Lennard-Jones clusters for use in nucleation theory

Barrett, Jonathan C.
February 2007
Journal of Chemical Physics;2/21/2007, Vol. 126 Issue 7, p074312
Academic Journal
Decay rates of small clusters (containing between 10 and 40 Lennard-Jones atoms) are determined by molecular dynamics simulations. The cluster is defined by the condition that the atoms must lie within a specified distance of their center of mass, and initial isothermal states are generated using a Metropolis Monte Carlo method. Plots of the logarithm of the survival fraction against time are found to be nonlinear, indicating that the decay of constant temperature clusters is non-Markovian and depends on the collision rate with a thermalizing gas. However, when the clusters are banded according to their energies, exponential decay is seen. The energy dependent decay rates from simulations agree to within a factor of 2 with those estimated from equilibrium considerations (using free energies from thermodynamic integration and assuming a Gaussian energy distribution), indicating that clusters defined in this way can be used in Markovian rate equations. During nucleation, the cluster energy distribution is shifted from its equilibrium value, leading to a reduction in the nucleation rate by a temperature dependent factor of 100 or more, in the absence of a thermalizing carrier gas.


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