Cluster formation in binary fluids with competing short-range and long-range interactions

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The equilibrium phase behaviour of a model binary fluid is investigated through Monte Carlo simulations and by developing a molecular thermodynamic model. Both fluid components interact through a hard core with short-range attractions (SA), but one of the components exhibits an additional long-range repulsion (SA+LR). Phase behaviour for this system is controlled by the cross-interaction between the two types of particles as well as their chemical potentials. For a weak cross-interaction the system displays behaviour that is a composite of the behaviour of the individual components, i.e. the SA component can display bulk vapour/liquid phase separation while the SALR component can display giant micelle-like clusters for a suitbale combination of SA and LR interactions. For a strong cross-interaction qualitatively different behaviour is observed, with the resulting clusters typically composed of a more equal mixture of SA and SALR particles. Moreover, these mixed clusters can exist even when the SA component by itself would be undersaturated or supercritical, and/or when the SALR component by itself would not form giant clusters. These insights should help to identify the mechanisms for clustering in experimental systems where giant equilibrium clusters are observed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3231-3244
JournalMolecular Physics
Issue number21-22
Early online date27 Jun 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jun 2018


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