Does C60 have a liquid phase?


ABOVE a substance's liquid–vapour critical point (Tc), the distinction between the liquid and vapour phases disappears. Below the triple point (Tt), meanwhile (at which solid, liquid and vapour coexist), only the solid and vapour are stable. The liquid range, Tc/Tt, depends on the nature of the intermolecular forces: for argon, Tc/Tt = 1.8, whereas for sodium the ratio is 7.5. But might there be molecular substances that have no liquid phase at all? Here we present results which suggest that C60 is such a substance. We map out the phase diagram using computer simulations in which the C60 molecules are represented by spheres interacting via Lennard-Jones potentials summed over all 60 carbon atoms. We find that the sublimation line passes above the metastable liquid-vapour coexistence curve. By drawing an analogy with the aggregation of colloidal particles, we expect that solid C60 formed by nucleation from the vapour phase will be amorphous rather than crystalline.

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