Transition dynamics and metastable states during premelting and freezing of ice surfaces

SF Cui and HX Chen, PHYSICAL REVIEW B, 108, 045413 (2023).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.108.045413

The premelting of ice is well known, but little is known about how the premelted and solid surfaces convert to each other. In this work, the transition dynamics between two phases are revealed with large-scale molecular dynamics simulations. Supercooling and superheating states exist in the transition, and are overcome by nucleation-like processes. The natural inhomogeneity of ice surfaces enhances nuclei formation, while it only accelerates premelting but not freezing. Furthermore, the complete freezing of ice surfaces may be hindered by the stacking order mismatch between nuclei. This work points out the importance of metastable states in premelting, and the necessity of a large system scale in describing its transition process.

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