Skip to main content

Normal mode description of phases of matter: Application to heat capacity

by Jaeyun Moon, Simon Thebaud, Lucas R Lindsay, Takeshi Egami
Publication Type
Journal Name
Physical Review Research
Publication Date
Page Number

Understanding thermodynamics in liquids at the atomic level is challenging because of strong atomic interactions and lack of spatial symmetry. Recent prior theoretical works have focused on describing heat capacity of liquids in terms of phonon-like excitations but often rely on fitting factors and ad hoc assumptions. In this work, we propose characterizing various phases in terms of instantaneous normal modes (INMs) of structural snapshots from molecular dynamics simulations of single-element systems over wide ranges of temperature and pressure. We use the INMs to build a mode-level microscopic description of heat capacity and demonstrate that heat capacity of liquids can be described by a combination of both solidlike and gaslike degrees of freedom, leading to a more unified framework to fundamentally describe heat capacity of all three phases of matter: solid, liquid, and gas.