Classical nucleation theory predicts that a binary system which is immiscible in the bulk should become miscible at the nanoscale when lowering its size below a critical size. Here we tackle the problem of miscibility in nanoalloys with a combination of ab initio and atomistic calculations, developing a statistical-mechanics approach for the free energy cost of forming phase-separated aggregates. We apply it to the controversial case of AuCo nanoalloys. AuCo is immiscible in the bulk, but a rich variety of nanoparticle configurations, both phase-separated and intermixed, have been obtained experimentally. Our calculations strongly point to the permanence of an equilibrium miscibility gap down to the nanoscale and to the nonexistence of a critical size below which phase separation is impossible. We show that this is due to nanoscale effects of general character, caused by the existence of preferred nucleation sites in nanoparticles, which lower the free-energy cost for phase separation with respect to bulk systems.

Nanoscale Effects on Phase Separation

Panizon, Emanuele;Ferrando, Riccardo
2017

Abstract

Classical nucleation theory predicts that a binary system which is immiscible in the bulk should become miscible at the nanoscale when lowering its size below a critical size. Here we tackle the problem of miscibility in nanoalloys with a combination of ab initio and atomistic calculations, developing a statistical-mechanics approach for the free energy cost of forming phase-separated aggregates. We apply it to the controversial case of AuCo nanoalloys. AuCo is immiscible in the bulk, but a rich variety of nanoparticle configurations, both phase-separated and intermixed, have been obtained experimentally. Our calculations strongly point to the permanence of an equilibrium miscibility gap down to the nanoscale and to the nonexistence of a critical size below which phase separation is impossible. We show that this is due to nanoscale effects of general character, caused by the existence of preferred nucleation sites in nanoparticles, which lower the free-energy cost for phase separation with respect to bulk systems.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/887463
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