Cooling-Rate Computer Simulations for the Description of Crystallization of Organic Phase-Change Materials

VM Nazarychev and AD Glova and SV Larin and AV Lyulin and SV Lyulin and AA Gurtovenko, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES, 23, 14576 (2022).

DOI: 10.3390/ijms232314576

A molecular-level insight into phase transformations is in great demand for many molecular systems. It can be gained through computer simulations in which cooling is applied to a system at a constant rate. However, the impact of the cooling rate on the crystallization process is largely unknown. To this end, here we performed atomic-scale molecular dynamics simulations of organic phase-change materials (paraffins), in which the cooling rate was varied over four orders of magnitude. Our computational results clearly show that a certain threshold (1.2 x 10(11) K/min) in the values of cooling rates exists. When cooling is slower than the threshold, the simulations qualitatively reproduce an experimentally observed abrupt change in the temperature dependence of the density, enthalpy, and thermal conductivity of paraffins upon crystallization. Beyond this threshold, when cooling is too fast, the paraffin's properties in simulations start to deviate considerably from experimental data: the faster the cooling, the larger part of the system is trapped in the supercooled liquid state. Thus, a proper choice of a cooling rate is of tremendous importance in computer simulations of organic phase-change materials, which are of great promise for use in domestic heat storage devices.

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