Reguera Research Group

... at University of Barcelona

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Home Research Nucleation


Cluster snapshotNucleation is the starting mechanisms behind most first-order phase transitions such as crystallization, condensation, or melting. This initial step of the phase transition has a tremendous influence on the growth dynamics and final structure of the emerging new phase. It is highly desireable to control and understand nucleation in order to optimize many scientific and industrial processes, such as protein crystallization, polymer melts, or nanoparticle production.

Introduction to nucleation

Melting ice First-order phase transitions play an important role in science, nature and many technical applications. Simple, everyday examples are condensation, evaporation, crystallization, and melting. As the first step, all these first-order phase transitions need to overcome a free-energy barrier, which is the work of formation of a small embryo or nucleus of the new phase. This nucleus can only emerge from random thermal fluctuations within the old metastable phase. This initiating process of a first-order phase transition is called nucleation.


Research on nucleation

Snapshot of a simulationPhase transitions often are everyday processes whose conceptual basis is easily explained by simple examples. But how the phase transition proceeds at the molecular level is a far more delicate question. Indeed, predictions of theoretical models often fail miserably when compared with experimental results.

Our research is focused on the details of nucleation using molecular simulations and on trying to improve nucleation theory.