Molecular Dynamics Study of Bubble Nucleation on an Ideally Smooth Substrate

YJ Chen and XJ Chen and B Yu and Y Zou and WQ Tao, LANGMUIR, 36, 13725-13734 (2020).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.0c02832

Questions regarding bubble nucleation on an ideally smooth surface are seemingly endless, but it can not be adequately verified yet because of the scale limitation (microscopic scale). Hence, in this study, bubble nucleation on an ideally smooth substrate is explored using the molecular dynamics simulation method. An ideally smooth hydrophilic platinum substrate at 145 K is conducted to heat the simple L-J liquid argon. Results show that a visible bubble nucleus successfully forms on the ideally smooth substrate without any additional disturbance, which is common in boiling studies using the traditional numerical simulation methods. However, the nucleation position is unpredictable. At the atomic level, the thermal energy transfer from an ideally smooth substrate to liquid atoms is inhomogeneous due to atomic inhomogeneous distribution and irregular movement, which are the key influencing factors for achieving bubble nucleation. The inhomogeneity will be highlighted with the heating process. As a result, some local liquid atoms near the ideally smooth surface absorb more thermal energy to overcome their potential barrier at a specific moment, causing the emergence of a distinct nucleus there. Furthermore, nanostructure substrates are introduced to make a comparison with the smooth substrate in bubble nucleation. There is no significant difference in the inception temperature of nucleation between the ideally smooth and nanostructure substrates, but the latter has better performance in improving the bubble nucleation rate.

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