Assembly of body-centered cubic crystals in hard spheres
State Key Laboratory of Polymer Physics and Chemistry, Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 130022, Changchun, PRC
Revised: 24 January 2011
Accepted: 29 March 2011
Published online: 11 May 2011
We investigate the crystallization of monodisperse hard spheres confined by two square patterned substrates (possessing the basic character of the body-centered cubic (bcc) crystal structure) at varying substrate separations via molecular dynamics simulation. Through slowly increasing the density of the system, we find that crystallization under the influence of square patterned substrates can set in at lower densities compared with the homogeneous crystallization. As the substrate separation decreases, the density, where crystallization occurs (i.e., pressure drops), becomes small. Moreover, two distinct regimes are identified in the plane of bcc particle fraction and density for the separation range investigated. For large substrate separations, the bcc particle fraction displays a local maximum as the density is increased, and the resulting formed crystals have a polycrystalline structure. However, and more importantly, another situation emerges for small substrate separations: the capillary effects (stemming from the presence of two substrates) overwhelm the bulk driving forces (stemming from the spontaneous thermal fluctuations in the bulk) during the densification, eventually resulting in the formation of a defect-free bcc crystal (unstable with respect to the bulk hard-sphere crystals) by using two square patterned substrates.
© EDP Sciences, SIF, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2011