We study the effect of shear flow on homogeneous crystal nucleation, using Brownian dynamics simulations in combination with an umbrella sampling-like technique. The symmetry breaking due to shear results in anisotropic radial distribution functions. The homogeneous shear rate suppresses crystal nucleation and leads to an increase of the size of the critical nucleus. These observations can be described by a simple, phenomenological extension of classical nucleation theory. In addition, we find that nuclei have a preferential orientation with respect to the direction of shear. On average the longest dimension of a nucleus is along the vorticity direction, while the shortest dimension is preferably perpendicular to that and slightly tilted with respect to the gradient direction.

J. Phys.: Condens. Matter

Blaak, R., Auer, S. A., Frenkel, D., & Löwen, H. (2004). Homogeneous nucleation of colloidal melts under the influence of shearing fields. J. Phys.: Condens. Matter, 16, 3873–3884. doi:10.1088/0953-8984/16/38/007