By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Physics Week -- Current study results on Physics Condensed Matter have been published. According to news reporting from Prague, Czech Republic, by VerticalNews journalists, research stated, "The structural and interfacial properties of nanoscopic liquid drops are assessed by means of mechanical, thermodynamical, and statistical mechanical approaches that are discussed in detail, including original developments at both the macroscopic level and the microscopic level of density functional theory (DFT). With a novel analysis we show that a purely macroscopic (static) mechanical treatment can lead to a qualitatively reasonable description of the surface tension and the Tolman length of a liquid drop; the latter parameter, which characterizes the curvature dependence of the tension, is found to be negative and has a magnitude of about a half of the molecular dimension."
The news correspondents obtained a quote from the research from the Institute of Chemical Process Fundamentals, "A mechanical slant cannot, however, be considered satisfactory for small finite-size systems where fluctuation effects are significant. From the opposite perspective, a curvature expansion of the macroscopic thermodynamic properties (density and chemical potential) is then used to demonstrate that a purely thermodynamic approach of this type cannot in itself correctly account for the curvature correction of the surface tension of liquid drops. We emphasize that any approach, e.g., classical nucleation theory, which is based on a purely macroscopic viewpoint, does not lead to a reliable representation when the radius of the drop becomes microscopic. The description of the enhanced inhomogeneity exhibited by small drops (particularly in the dense interior) necessitates a treatment at the molecular level to account for finite-size and surface effects correctly. The so-called mechanical route, which corresponds to a molecular-level extension of the macroscopic theory of elasticity and is particularly popular in molecular dynamics simulation, also appears to be unreliable due to the inherent ambiguity in the definition of the microscopic pressure tensor, an observation which has been known for decades but is frequently ignored. The union of the theory of capillarity (developed in the nineteenth century by Gibbs and then promoted by Tolman) with a microscopic DFT treatment allows for a direct and unambiguous description of the interfacial properties of drops of arbitrary size; DFT provides all of the bulk and surface characteristics of the system that are required to uniquely define its thermodynamic properties. In this vein, we propose a non-local mean-field DFT for Lennard-Jones (LJ) fluids to examine drops of varying size. A comparison of the predictions of our DFT with recent simulation data based on a second-order fluctuation analysis (Sampayo et al 2010 J. Chem. Phys. 132 141101) reveals the consistency of the two treatments. This observation highlights the significance of fluctuation effects in small drops, which give rise to additional entropic (thermal non-mechanical) contributions, in contrast to what one observes in the case of planar interfaces which are governed by the laws of mechanical equilibrium. A small negative Tolman length (which is found to be about a tenth of the molecular diameter) and a non-monotonic behaviour of the surface tension with the drop radius are predicted for the LJ fluid."
According to the news reporters, the research concluded: "Finally, the limits of the validity of the Tolman approach, the effect of the range of the intermolecular potential, and the behaviour of bubbles are briefly discussed."
For more information on this research see: A perspective on the interfacial properties of nanoscopic liquid drops. Journal of Physics Condensed Matter, 2012;24(46):464121.
Our news journalists report that additional information may be obtained by contacting A. Malijevsky, E Hala Laboratory of Thermodynamics, Institute of Chemical Process Fundamentals of the ASCR, Prague 6, Czech Republic.
Keywords for this news article include: Prague, Europe, Treatment, Czech Republic, Physics Condensed Matter.
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