Precipitation in aqueous mixtures with addition of a strongly hydrophilic or hydrophobic solute

Ryuichi Okamoto, Akira Onuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


We examine phase separation in aqueous mixtures due to preferential solvation with a low-density solute (hydrophilic ions or hydrophobic particles). For hydrophilic ions, preferential solvation can stabilize water domains enriched with ions. This precipitation occurs above a critical solute density np in wide ranges of the temperature and the average composition, where the mixture solvent would be in a one-phase state without solute. The volume fraction of precipitated domains tends to zero as the average solute density n̄ is decreased to np or as the interaction parameter χ is decreased to a critical value χp. If we start with one-phase states with n̄ > np or χ> χp, precipitation proceeds via homogeneous nucleation or via heterogeneous nucleation, for example, around suspended colloids. In the latter case, colloid particles are wrapped by thick wetting layers. We also predict a first-order prewetting transition for n̄ or χ slightly below np or χp for neutral colloids.

Original languageEnglish
Article number051501
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 18 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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