Liquid-liquid phase separation of fluids exhibiting interconversion between alternative states has been proposed as an underlying mechanism for fluid polyamorphism and may be of relevance to the protein function and intracellular organization. However, molecular-level insight into the interplay between competing forces that can drive or restrict phase separation in interconverting fluids remains elusive. Here, we utilize an off-lattice model of enantiomers with tunable chiral interconversion and interaction properties to elucidate the physics underlying the stabilization and tunability of phase separation in fluids with interconverting states. We show that introducing an imbalance in the intermolecular forces between two enantiomers results in nonequilibrium, arrested phase separation into microdomains. We also find that in the equilibrium case, when all interaction forces are conservative, the growth of the phase domain is restricted only by the system size. In this case, we observe phase amplification, in which one of the two alternative phases grows at the expense of the other. These findings provide novel insights on how the interplay between dynamics and thermodynamics defines the equilibrium and steady-state morphologies of phase transitions in fluids with interconverting molecular or supramolecular states.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry