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Full correspondence between asymmetric filling of slits and first-order phase transition lines

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Author(s): Leszek Szybisz | Salvador A. Sartarelli

Journal: AIP Advances
ISSN 2158-3226

Volume: 1;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 042146;
Date: 2011;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Adsorption on single planar walls and filling of slits with identical planar walls are investigated in the frame of the density functional theory. In this sort of slits the external potential is symmetric with respect to its central plane. Calculations were carried out by applying both the canonical and grand canonical ensembles (CE and GCE, respectively). The behavior is analyzed by varying the strength of the adsorbate-substrate attraction, the temperature T, and the coverage Γℓ. Results obtained for physisorption of Xe on alkaline surfaces are reported in the present work. Prewetting (PW) lines and wetting temperatures, Tw, are determined from the analysis of adsorption on single walls. The filling of slits is analyzed for temperatures T > Tw. It is found that whenever for a given Xe-substrate combination the adsorption on a single wall exhibits a first-order wetting transition then asymmetric profiles that break the left-right symmetry of the external potential appear in the filling of an equivalent slit. These spontaneously symmetry breaking (SSB) solutions occur in a restricted range of Γℓ with a T-dependent width. In the case of closed slits analyzed in the CE scheme, the obtained asymmetric profiles exhibit lower Helmholtz free energies than the symmetric species and, therefore, could be stabilized in this geometry. For open slits, the GCE scheme yields all the symmetric and SSB states in the corresponding convex regimes of the free energy. It is shown that both the CE and the GCE frames yield three coexistent states, two symmetric and one asymmetric twofold degenerate. Both a PW line and the related SSB effect terminate at the same temperature. For rather strongly attractive surfaces reentrant SSB states are found at a fixed value of T.
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