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J Chem Phys. 2011 Feb 7;134(5):054511. doi: 10.1063/1.3548870.

Thermodynamic analysis of nucleation in confined space: generalized Gibbs approach.

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  • 1Institut für Physik der Universität Rostock, Universitätsplatz, 18051 Rostock, Germany. juern-w.schmelzer@physik.uni-rostock.de

Abstract

A general thermodynamic analysis of nucleation-growth processes in confined space in initially metastable states of the ambient phase is performed based on the generalized Gibbs approach to the description of heterogeneous systems. In particular, it is shown analytically how the parameters of critical clusters and clusters in stable equilibrium with the ambient phase depend on the volume of the system for initially fixed intensive state parameters of the ambient phase. Qualitatively, the results are shown to be similar independent on the boundary conditions employed. It is demonstrated further that the behavior of systems in confined space is directly related to the kinetics of phase transformation processes in spatially extended systems, when ensembles of clusters are formed. The results of the thermodynamic analysis of cluster formation and growth in a confined space are employed then, in particular, to the derivation of kinetic equations for the description of the process of coarsening or Ostwald ripening. In the analysis of both the nucleation in confined space and the description of Ostwald ripening, no specific assumptions concerning the equations of state of the system under consideration and the number of components both in the ambient and newly evolving phases are made. Consequently, the results are of very general nature and hold always as far as the necessary condition for the possibility of a phase transformation is fulfilled.

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