Nucleation and growth of droplets at a liquid-gas interface

A. A. Nepomnyashchy*, A. A. Golovin, A. E. Tikhomirova, V. A. Volpert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The nucleation of liquid droplets at a liquid-gas interface from a saturated vapor in the gas phase, as well as the droplet growth after the nucleation are studied. These two processes determine the formation of a regular hexagonal array of drops on the surface of an evaporating film of polymer solution that is used for the fabrication of polymer membranes with a regular microporous structure. The free-energy barrier for the nucleation of a droplet at a liquid-gas interface is found as a function of the droplet radius and the contact angles, and the critical nucleation radius is computed. It is shown that the heterogeneous nucleation is thermodynamically more preferable than the homogeneous one. The role of the line tension between the phases is also estimated. Further growth of a droplet nucleated at the liquid-gas interface is studied. Two growth mechanisms are considered: by the vapor diffusion flux from the gas phase and by the surface diffusion of the vapor molecules adsorbed at the liquid-gas interface outside the droplet. Two cases, corresponding to unsaturated and saturated condensation, are considered. The droplet growth is described by a free-boundary problem which is solved analytically and numerically. The droplet growth exponents at different stages of growth are found.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021605
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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