Evaporation of liquid droplets of nano- and micro-meter size as a function of molecular mass and intermolecular interactions: experiments and molecular dynamics simulations†
Transport of heat to the surface of a liquid is a limiting step in the evaporation of liquids into an inert gas. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of a two component Lennard-Jones (LJ) fluid revealed two modes of energy transport from a vapour to an interface of an evaporating droplet of liquid. Heat is transported according to the equation of temperature diffusion, far from the droplet of radius R. The heat flux, in this region, is proportional to temperature gradient and heat conductivity in the vapour. However at some distance from the interface, Aλ, (where λ is the mean free path in the gas), the temperature has a discontinuity and heat is transported ballistically i.e. by direct individual collisions of gas molecules with the interface. This ballistic transport reduces the heat flux (and consequently the mass flux) by the factor R/(R + Aλ) in comparison to the flux obtained from temperature diffusion. Thus it slows down the evaporation of droplets of sizes R ∼ Aλ and smaller (practically for sizes from 103 nm down to 1 nm). We analyzed parameter A as a function of interactions between molecules and their masses. The rescaled parameter, A(kBTb/ε11)1/2, is a linear function of the ratio of the molecular mass of the liquid molecules to the molecular mass of the gas molecules, m1/m2 (for a series of chemically similar compounds). Here ε11 is the interaction parameter between molecules in the liquid (proportional to the enthalpy of evaporation) and Tb is the temperature of the gas in the bulk. We tested the predictions of MD simulations in experiments performed on droplets of ethylene glycol, diethylene glycol, triethylene glycol and tetraethylene glycol. They were suspended in an electrodynamic trap and evaporated into dry nitrogen gas. A changes from ∼1 (for ethylene glycol) to approximately 10 (for tetraethylene glycol) and has the same dependence on molecular parameters as obtained for the LJ fluid in MD simulations. The value of x = A(kBTb/ε11)1/2 is of the order of 1 (for water x = 1.8, glycerol x = 1, ethylene glycol x = 0.4, tetraethylene glycol x = 2.1 evaporating into dry nitrogen at room temperature and for Lennard-Jones fluids x = 2 for m1/m2 = 1 and low temperature).