A Smoluchowski model of crystallization dynamics of small colloidal clusters

Daniel J. Beltran-Villegas, Ray M. Sehgal, Dimitrios Maroudas, David M. Ford, Michael A. Bevan

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We investigate the dynamics of colloidal crystallization in a 32-particle system at a fixed value of interparticle depletion attraction that produces coexisting fluid and solid phases. Free energy landscapes (FELs) and diffusivity landscapes (DLs) are obtained as coefficients of 1D Smoluchowski equations using as order parameters either the radius of gyration or the average crystallinity. FELs and DLs are estimated by fitting the Smoluchowski equations to Brownian dynamics (BD) simulations using either linear fits to locally initiated trajectories or global fits to unbiased trajectories using Bayesian inference. The resulting FELs are compared to Monte Carlo Umbrella Sampling results. The accuracy of the FELs and DLs for modeling colloidal crystallization dynamics is evaluated by comparing mean first-passage times from BD simulations with analytical predictions using the FEL and DL models. While the 1D models accurately capture dynamics near the free energy minimum fluid and crystal configurations, predictions near the transition region are not quantitatively accurate. A preliminary investigation of ensemble averaged 2D order parameter trajectories suggests that 2D models are required to capture crystallization dynamics in the transition region.

Original languageEnglish
Article number154506
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number15
StatePublished - Oct 21 2011


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