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Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2013 Feb;87(2):020402. Epub 2013 Feb 28.

Geometry-induced phase transition in fluids: capillary prewetting.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom.


We report a new first-order phase transition preceding capillary condensation and corresponding to the discontinuous formation of a curved liquid meniscus. Using a mean-field microscopic approach based on the density functional theory we compute the complete phase diagram of a prototypical two-dimensional system exhibiting capillary condensation, namely that of a fluid with long-ranged dispersion intermolecular forces which is spatially confined by a substrate forming a semi-infinite rectangular pore exerting long-ranged dispersion forces on the fluid. In the T-μ plane the phase line of the new transition is tangential to the capillary condensation line at the capillary wetting temperature T(cw). The surface phase behavior of the system maps to planar wetting with the phase line of the new transition, termed capillary prewetting, mapping to the planar prewetting line. If capillary condensation is approached isothermally with T>T(cw), the meniscus forms at the capping wall and unbinds continuously, making capillary condensation a second-order phenomenon. We compute the corresponding critical exponent for the divergence of adsorption.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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