Equilibrium phase behavior and maximally random jammed state of truncated tetrahedra

Duyu Chen, Yang Jiao, Salvatore Torquato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Numerous recent investigations have been devoted to the determination of the equilibrium phase behavior and packing characteristics of hard nonspherical particles, including ellipsoids, superballs, and polyhedra, to name but just a few shapes. Systems of hard nonspherical particles exhibit a variety of stable phases with different degrees of translational and orientational order, including isotropic liquid, solid crystal, rotator and a variety of liquid crystal phases. In this paper, we employ a Monte Carlo implementation of the adaptive-shrinking-cell (ASC) numerical scheme and free-energy calculations to ascertain with high precision the equilibrium phase behavior of systems of congruent Archimedean truncated tetrahedra over the entire range of possible densities up to the maximal nearly space-filling density. In particular, we find that the system undergoes two first-order phase transitions as the density increases: first a liquid-solid transition and then a solid-solid transition. The isotropic liquid phase coexists with the Conway-Torquato (CT) crystal phase at intermediate densities, verifying the result of a previous qualitative study [ J. Chem. Phys. 2011, 135, 151101 ]. The freezing- and melting-point packing fractions for this transition are respectively φF = 0.496 ± 0.006 and φM = 0.591 ± 0.005. At higher densities, we find that the CT phase undergoes another first-order phase transition to one associated with the densest-known crystal, with coexistence densities in the range φ ∈ [0.780 ± 0.002, 0.802 ± 0.003]. We find no evidence for stable rotator (or plastic) or nematic phases. We also generate the maximally random jammed (MRJ) packings of truncated tetrahedra, which may be regarded to be the glassy end state of a rapid compression of the liquid. Specifically, we systematically study the structural characteristics of the MRJ packings, including the centroidal pair correlation function, structure factor and orientational pair correlation function. We find that such MRJ packings are hyperuniform with an average packing fraction of 0.770, which is considerably larger than the corresponding value for identical spheres (≈ 0.64). We conclude with some simple observations concerning what types of phase transitions might be expected in general hard-particle systems based on the particle shape and which would be good glass formers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7981-7992
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number28
StatePublished - Jul 17 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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