Melting and Freezing of Microclusters
One of the most intriguing unsolved problems in the physical sciences is the elucidation at the atomic level of freezing and melting. Despite the great advances in the description of the critical region, the “simple” first-order phase transition remains as elusive a problem as ever. This topic has belonged, traditionally, to condensed matter science, so that it has been addressed with the tools we use to study bulk materials. This in turn means that virtually all attempts to understand freezing and melting have been carried out in schemes based on infinite numbers of atoms. Some simulations done in the 1970’s, however, gave powerful signals that we could learn a great deal about freezing and melting from the study of small clusters. We shall review these briefly and then go on to describe how following those signals has indeed led to new insights into the nature of the equilibrium between solids and liquids. This journey has exposed new phenomena we should expect to see in finite clusters, phenomena in a sense richer and more varied than the simple first-order phase transition between bulk solids and bulk liquids.
KeywordsPartition Function Monte Carlo Argon Atom Correlation Diagram Bulk Matter
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