The formation of vapor bubbles in a metastable liquid, cavitation, is an activated process due to the free energy cost of having both phases at contact. Such an energetic penalty enables the existence of the liquid beyond its thermodynamic borders. Establishing the stability limits of a liquid as ubiquitous as water has important practical implications and has thereby attracted a lot of attention. Different experimental strategies and theoretical analyses have been employed to measure and predict the cavitation line, or the pressure–temperature kinetic stability border of liquid water. Understanding the location of the cavitation line requires knowing the cavitation rate dependence on pressure and temperature. Such dependency is difficult to obtain in experiments, and we use molecular simulations with the TIP4P/2005 model to fill this gap. By deeply overstretching liquid water below the saturation pressure, we are able to observe and quantify spontaneous cavitation. To deal with a lower overstretching regime, we resort to the Seeding technique, which consists of analyzing simulations of a liquid containing a vapor bubble under the theoretical framework of Classical Nucleation Theory. Combining spontaneous cavitation with Seeding, we get a wide overview of the cavitation rate. We study two different temperatures (450 and 550 K) and complement our perspective with the results previously obtained at 296.4 K [Menzl et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 113, 13582 (2016)] to establish a broad simulation-experiment comparison. We find a good agreement between simulations and both isobaric heating and isochoric cooling experiments using quartz inclusions. We are, however, unable to reconcile simulations with other experimental techniques. Our results predict a decrease in the solid–liquid interfacial free energy as the liquid becomes increasingly overstretched with a temperature independent Tolman length of 0.1 nm. Therefore, the capillarity approximation underestimates the nucleation rate. Nonetheless, it provides a fair indication of the location of the cavitation line given the steep rate vs pressure dependence. Overall, our work provides a comprehensive view of the water cavitation phenomenon and sets an efficient strategy to investigate it with molecular simulations.
The water cavitation line as predicted by the TIP4P/2005 model
Note: This paper is part of the JCP Special Topic on Nucleation: Current Understanding Approaching 150 Years After Gibbs.
Cintia P. Lamas, Carlos Vega, Eva G. Noya, Eduardo Sanz; The water cavitation line as predicted by the TIP4P/2005 model. J. Chem. Phys. 28 March 2023; 158 (12): 124504. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0139470
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