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Solid or liquid? Solidification of a nanoconfined liquid under nonequilibrium conditions

Patil, Shivprasad
MATEİ, George
Oral, Ahmet
Hoffmann, Peter M.
There has been a long-standing debate about the physical state and possible phase transformations of confined liquids. In this report, we show that a model-confined liquid can behave both as a Newtonian liquid with very little change in its dynamics and as a pseudosolid, depending solely on the rate of approach of the confining surfaces. Thus, the confined liquid does not exhibit any confinement-induced solidification in thermodynamic equilibrium. Instead, solidification is induced kinetically when the two confining surfaces are approached with a minimum critical rate. This critical rate is surprisingly slow (on the order of 6 angstrom/s), explaining the frequent observation of confinement-induced solidification.