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Abstract

When a supercritical solution is rapidly expanded, large solute supersaturations can be attained, and small particles are formed. The evolution of the homogeneous nucleation rate, work of nucleus formation, and critical nucleus size along different expansion paths is investigated here for the model system phenanthrene-carbon dioxide. Nucleation rates are the result of the competition among solvent expansion, cooling due to depressurization, and high supersaturation. Although supersaturations can reach very high values (> 106), relatively flat nucleation rate profiles result due to cooling and expansion. For an interfacial tension of 0.02 N/m, computed nucleation rates never exceed 104 s−1 · cm−3. A substantial fraction of the maximum nucleation rate is attained with partial decompression to pressures above 1 bar.