Forward flux sampling calculation of homogeneous nucleation rates from aqueous NaCl solutions

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We used molecular dynamics simulations and the path sampling technique known as forward flux sampling to study homogeneous nucleation of NaCl crystals from supersaturated aqueous solutions at 298 K and 1 bar. Nucleation rates were obtained for a range of salt concentrations for the Joung-Cheatham NaCl force field combined with the Extended Simple Point Charge (SPC/E) water model. The calculated nucleation rates are significantly lower than the available experimental measurements. The estimates for the nucleation rates in this work do not rely on classical nucleation theory, but the pathways observed in the simulations suggest that the nucleation process is better described by classical nucleation theory than an alternative interpretation based on Ostwald's step rule, in contrast to some prior simulations of related models. In addition to the size of NaCl nucleus, we find that the crystallinity of a nascent cluster plays an important role in the nucleation process. Nuclei with high crystallinity were found to have higher growth probability and longer lifetimes, possibly because they are less exposed to hydration water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number044505
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 28 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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