Local structure and energy landscapes in the hard sphere liquid
3.34 HH Wills Physics Laboratory
The hard sphere system remains the starting point for descriptions of the liquid state, yet deep questions remain concerning its properties at high densities approaching the glass transition. Conventional descriptions rely on mean-field descriptions, formally only exact in the infinite dimensional limit, or by approximating two-body correlation functions in finite dimensions. Here we model the three-dimensional hard sphere liquid by focusing on the thermodynamics of local structures.
We employ a geometric approach to n-body correlations to improve on previous approximations. We calculate the free energies of local geometric motifs in excellent quantitative agreement with molecular dynamics simulations across the liquid and supercooled liquid regimes. We explore the free energy landscape for local structures in the hard sphere liquid, assessing how the system changes at densities that are dynamically inaccessible using conventional techniques.
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