Overcoming the Time Limitation in Molecular Dynamics Simulation of Crystal Nucleation: A Persistent-Embryo Approach.

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Physical review letters, ISSN: 1079-7114, Vol: 120, Issue: 8, Page: 085703

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https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/ameslab_manuscripts/110; http://arxiv.org/abs/1709.00085
Sun, Yang; Song, Huajing; Zhang, Feng; Yang, Lin; Ye, Zhuo; Mendelev, Mikhail I.; Wang, Cai-Zhuang; Ho, Kai-Ming
American Physical Society (APS); Iowa State University Digital Repository, Ames IA (United States)
Physics and Astronomy; Condensed Matter - Materials Science; Condensed Matter - Soft Condensed Matter
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article description
The crystal nucleation from liquid in most cases is too rare to be accessed within the limited time scales of the conventional molecular dynamics (MD) simulation. Here, we developed a "persistent embryo" method to facilitate crystal nucleation in MD simulations by preventing small crystal embryos from melting using external spring forces. We applied this method to the pure Ni case for a moderate undercooling where no nucleation can be observed in the conventional MD simulation, and obtained nucleation rate in good agreement with the experimental data. Moreover, the method is applied to simulate an even more sluggish event: the nucleation of the B2 phase in a strong glass-forming Cu-Zr alloy. The nucleation rate was found to be 8 orders of magnitude smaller than Ni at the same undercooling, which well explains the good glass formability of the alloy. Thus, our work opens a new avenue to study solidification under realistic experimental conditions via atomistic computer simulation.