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J Chem Phys. 2013 Oct 14;139(14):144502. doi: 10.1063/1.4823499.

On fluid-solid direct coexistence simulations: the pseudo-hard sphere model.

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  • 1Departamento de Química Física, Facultad de Ciencias Químicas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


We investigate methodological issues concerning the direct coexistence method, an increasingly popular approach to evaluate the solid-fluid coexistence by means of computer simulations. The first issue is the impact of the simulation ensemble on the results. We compare the NpT ensemble (easy to use but approximate) with the NpzT ensemble (rigorous but more difficult to handle). Our work shows that both ensembles yield similar results for large systems (>5000 particles). Another issue, which is usually disregarded, is the stochastic character of a direct coexistence simulation. Here, we assess the impact of stochasticity in the determination of the coexistence point. We demonstrate that the error generated by stochasticity is much larger than that caused by the use of the NpT ensemble, and can be minimized by simply increasing the system size. To perform this study we use the pseudo hard-sphere model recently proposed by Jover et al. [J. Chem. Phys. 137, 144505 (2012)], and obtain a coexistence pressure of p∗ = 11.65(1), quite similar to that of hard spheres (only about 0.6% higher). Therefore, we conclude that this model can be reliably used to investigate the physics of hard spheres in phenomena like crystal nucleation.

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