Solid-liquid critical point

In summary, there are substances which have phase diagrams which do not have solid-liquid critical points. This is due to the fact that too many symmetries are broken when transitioning between the two phases.
  • #1

jfizzix

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In many phase diagrams of a single substance, there is a triple point, where the solid, liquid and gas phases coexist in equilibrium, and there is a liquid-gas critical point beyond which, the transition between liquid and gas becomes continuous, and the substance is known as a super-critical fluid.

Is there a simple reason why in most substances there doesn't appear to be a solid-liquid critical point, where, say pressures are so large that solids can flow (e.g., the mantle of the Earth)? Is there a special distinction between crystalline and amorphous solids as far as this point goes? Are there substances with known phase diagrams that have solid-liquid critical points?
 
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The explanation of the (generic) non-existence of such a critical points lies in Landau theory. The main idea is to study the ways in which symmetry can be broken in the system, write down an analytic functional for a coarse-grained order parameter which can describe that symmetry breaking (the functional must satisfy all the symmetries of the microscopic system), and then to study how many parameters need to be tuned to obtain a critical point (that is, a non-analyticity in the free energy which is not a simple discontinuity in either the free energy itself or its first derivative).

In this approach, the issue with finding a critical point in the solid-liquid transition is that too many symmetries are broken at once in going between the two phases, since a solid simultaneously breaks the translational and rotational symmetries of the liquid. If you write down the Landau functional needed, the number of parameters which you need to tune in order to get a continuous transition is more than you have to play with in real life (where you usually just have, say, just temperature and pressure).

Is there a special distinction between crystalline and amorphous solids as far as this point goes? Are there substances with known phase diagrams that have solid-liquid critical points?

Yes, the existence of intermediate solid-like phases is the work around! If you have a system which can have an intermediate phase between the liquid and solid which breaks only one of the two symmetries, then you can imagine going from a liquid to a solid with critical transitions. For example, in two dimensions there can be an intermediate hexatic phase, and the famous "Kosterlitz-Thouless-Halperin-Nelson-Young" (or KTHNY) proposal outlined how transitions between the three phases can be continuous. I believe nematic systems can also undergo a multi-step series of transitions between liquid and solid phases which can be continuous in principle.
 
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  • #3
king vitamin said:
If you have a system which can have an intermediate phase between the liquid and solid which breaks only one of the two symmetries, then you can imagine going from a liquid to a solid with critical transitions.

Do you know of any substances that have this property?
 
  • #4
I only know of the examples I gave.
 
  • #5
jfizzix said:
Do you know of any substances that have this property?
Here is a very recent paper outlining the melting of a skyrmion lattice via an intermediate hexatic phase in the material Cu##_{2}##OSeO##_{3}##. It touches directly on many of the things king vitamin detailed.

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1807.08352.pdf
 
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What is a solid-liquid critical point?

A solid-liquid critical point is a specific temperature and pressure at which a substance exists in both its solid and liquid phases simultaneously. At this point, the properties of the solid and liquid phases become identical, and it is impossible to distinguish between them. This point is also known as the melting point or fusion point.

How is the solid-liquid critical point determined?

The solid-liquid critical point is determined by plotting the melting points of a substance at different pressures and finding the point at which the solid and liquid lines intersect. This is often done using a phase diagram, which is a graph that shows the different phases of a substance at different temperatures and pressures.

What happens to a substance at the solid-liquid critical point?

At the solid-liquid critical point, the substance undergoes a phase transition from solid to liquid or from liquid to solid without any change in temperature or pressure. This means that the substance can exist in both its solid and liquid phases at the same time, and it is impossible to distinguish between them.

How does the solid-liquid critical point affect the properties of a substance?

The properties of a substance at the solid-liquid critical point are unique and can differ significantly from those of the solid or liquid phase alone. At this point, the substance has the highest density and specific heat capacity, and its viscosity is at a minimum. This can have implications for various industrial and scientific applications.

What are some examples of substances with a solid-liquid critical point?

Some common substances that have a solid-liquid critical point include water, carbon dioxide, and propane. These substances are often used in industries such as food processing, pharmaceuticals, and refrigeration, where their unique properties at the critical point are crucial for their applications.

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