Morphology formation in binary mixtures upon gradual destabilisation

Charley Schaefer*, Stefan Paquay, Tom C.B. McLeish

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spontaneous liquid-liquid phase separation is commonly understood in terms of phenomenological mean-field theories. These theories correctly predict the structural features of the fluid at sufficiently long time scales and wavelengths. However, these conditions are not met in various examples in biology and materials science where the mixture is slowly destabilised, and phase separation is strongly affected by critical thermal fluctuations. We propose a mechanism of pretransitional structuring of a mixture that approaches the miscibility gap and predict scaling relations that describe how the characteristic feature size of the emerging morphology decreases with an increasing quench rate. These predictions quantitatively agree with our kinetic Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics simulations of a phase-separating binary mixture, as well as with previously reported experimental observations. We discuss how these predictions are affected by non-conserved order parameters (e.g., due to chemical reactions or alignment of liquid-crystalline molecules), hydrodynamics and active transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8450-8458
Number of pages9
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number42
Early online date2 Sept 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Sept 2019

Bibliographical note

© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2019. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

Cite this