Thermodynamic aspects of the theory of nucleation are commonly considered employing Gibbs’ theory of interfacial phenomena and its generalizations. Utilizing Gibbs’ theory, the bulk parameters of the critical clusters governing nucleation can be uniquely determined for any metastable state of the ambient phase. As a rule, they turn out in such treatment to be widely similar to the properties of the newly-evolving macroscopic phases. Consequently, the major tool to resolve problems concerning the accuracy of theoretical predictions of nucleation rates and related characteristics of the nucleation process consists of an approach with the introduction of the size or curvature dependence of the surface tension. In the description of crystallization, this quantity has been expressed frequently via changes of entropy (or enthalpy) in crystallization, i.e., via the latent heat of melting or crystallization. Such a correlation between the capillarity phenomena and entropy changes was originally advanced by Stefan considering condensation and evaporation. It is known in the application to crystal nucleation as the Skapski–Turnbull relation. This relation, by mentioned reasons more correctly denoted as the Stefan–Skapski–Turnbull rule, was expanded by some of us quite recently to the description of the surface tension not only for phase equilibrium at planar interfaces, but to the description of the surface tension of critical clusters and its size or curvature dependence. This dependence is frequently expressed by a relation derived by Tolman. As shown by us, the Tolman equation can be employed for the description of the surface tension not only for condensation and boiling in one-component systems caused by variations of pressure (analyzed by Gibbs and Tolman), but generally also for phase formation caused by variations of temperature. Beyond this particular application, it can be utilized for multi-component systems provided the composition of the ambient phase is kept constant and variations of either pressure or temperature do not result in variations of the composition of the critical clusters. The latter requirement is one of the basic assumptions of classical nucleation theory. For this reason, it is only natural to use it also for the specification of the size dependence of the surface tension. Our method, relying on the Stefan–Skapski–Turnbull rule, allows one to determine the dependence of the surface tension on pressure and temperature or, alternatively, the Tolman parameter in his equation. In the present paper, we expand this approach and compare it with alternative methods of the description of the size-dependence of the surface tension and, as far as it is possible to use the Tolman equation, of the specification of the Tolman parameter. Applying these ideas to condensation and boiling, we derive a relation for the curvature dependence of the surface tension covering the whole range of metastable initial states from the binodal curve to the spinodal curve.
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