A simulation test of the optical Kerr mechanism for laser-induced nucleation

Brandon C. Knott, Michael F. Doherty, Baron Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent experiments have demonstrated that intense, nanosecond laser pulses can induce crystal nucleation from supersaturated solutions that are transparent at the incident wavelengths, a phenomenon termed nonphotochemical laser-induced nucleation (NPLIN). Previous work has proposed that this effect is due to the alignment of solute molecules in solution due to the electric field of the applied laser light, promoting crystalline order. We have used simulations of NPLIN to examine how an orientational bias in solution affects nucleation with Monte Carlo simulations of a Potts lattice gas model. We examine this effect within both a classical, one-step nucleation framework as well as in the context of two-step nucleation. Our results indicate that an orientational bias can reduce the free energy barrier to nucleation within the one-step picture as well as promote the crystallization of amorphous precritical nuclei (the rate-determining step in the two-step picture). However, these effects are only present with field strengths that are much greater than those used in experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number154501
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 21 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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