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J Chem Phys. 2013 Nov 21;139(19):194702. doi: 10.1063/1.4829762.

Solid-solid collapse transition in a two dimensional model molecular system.

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  • 1Solid State and Structural Chemistry Unit, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560012, India.


Solid-solid collapse transition in open framework structures is ubiquitous in nature. The real difficulty in understanding detailed microscopic aspects of such transitions in molecular systems arises from the interplay between different energy and length scales involved in molecular systems, often mediated through a solvent. In this work we employ Monte-Carlo simulation to study the collapse transition in a model molecular system interacting via both isotropic as well as anisotropic interactions having different length and energy scales. The model we use is known as Mercedes-Benz (MB), which, for a specific set of parameters, sustains two solid phases: honeycomb and oblique. In order to study the temperature induced collapse transition, we start with a metastable honeycomb solid and induce transition by increasing temperature. High density oblique solid so formed has two characteristic length scales corresponding to isotropic and anisotropic parts of interaction potential. Contrary to the common belief and classical nucleation theory, interestingly, we find linear strip-like nucleating clusters having significantly different order and average coordination number than the bulk stable phase. In the early stage of growth, the cluster grows as a linear strip, followed by branched and ring-like strips. The geometry of growing cluster is a consequence of the delicate balance between two types of interactions, which enables the dominance of stabilizing energy over destabilizing surface energy. The nucleus of stable oblique phase is wetted by intermediate order particles, which minimizes the surface free energy. In the case of pressure induced transition at low temperature the collapsed state is a disordered solid. The disordered solid phase has diverse local quasi-stable structures along with oblique-solid like domains.

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