Tuning Nucleation Kinetics via Nonequilibrium Chemical Reactions

Yongick Cho, William M. Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Unlike fluids at thermal equilibrium, biomolecular mixtures in living systems can sustain nonequilibrium steady states, in which active processes modify the conformational states of the constituent molecules. Despite qualitative similarities between liquid-liquid phase separation in these systems, the extent to which the phase-separation kinetics differ remains unclear. Here we show that inhomogeneous chemical reactions can alter the nucleation kinetics of liquid-liquid phase separation in a manner that is consistent with classical nucleation theory, but can only be rationalized by introducing a nonequilibrium interfacial tension. We identify conditions under which nucleation can be accelerated without changing the energetics or supersaturation, thus breaking the correlation between fast nucleation and strong driving forces that is typical of phase separation and self-assembly at thermal equilibrium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number128203
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 24 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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