Tolman lengths and rigidity constants of multicomponent fluids: Fundamental theory and numerical examples
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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The curvature dependence of the surface tension can be described by the Tolman length (first-order correction) and the rigidity constants (second-order corrections) through the Helfrich expansion. We present and explain the general theory for this dependence for multicomponent fluids and calculate the Tolman length and rigidity constants for a hexane-heptane mixture by use of square gradient theory. We show that the Tolman length of multicomponent fluids is independent of the choice of dividing surface and present simple formulae that capture the change in the rigidity constants for different choices of dividing surface. For multicomponent fluids, the Tolman length, the rigidity constants, and the accuracy of the Helfrich expansion depend on the choice of path in composition and pressure space along which droplets and bubbles are considered. For the hexane-heptane mixture, we find that the most accurate choice of path is the direction of constant liquid-phase composition. For this path, the Tolman length and rigidity constants are nearly linear in the mole fraction of the liquid phase, and the Helfrich expansion represents the surface tension of hexane-heptane droplets and bubbles within 0.1% down to radii of 3 nm. The presented framework is applicable to a wide range of fluid mixtures and can be used to accurately represent the surface tension of nanoscopic bubbles and droplets.