Widom line, dynamical crossover, and percolation transition of supercritical oxygen via molecular dynamics simulations

Abhinav S. Raman, Huiyong Li, Y. C. Chiew

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9 Scopus citations


Supercritical oxygen, a cryogenic fluid, is widely used as an oxidizer in jet propulsion systems and is therefore of paramount importance in gaining physical insights into processes such as transcritical and supercritical vaporization. It is well established in the scientific literature that the supercritical state is not homogeneous but, in fact, can be demarcated into regions with liquid-like and vapor-like properties, separated by the "Widom line." In this study, we identified the Widom line for oxygen, constituted by the loci of the extrema of thermodynamic response functions (heat capacity, volumetric thermal expansion coefficient, and isothermal compressibility) in the supercritical region, via atomistic molecular dynamics simulations. We found that the Widom lines derived from these response functions all coincide near the critical point until about 25 bars and 15-20 K, beyond which the isothermal compressibility line begins to deviate. We also obtained the crossover from liquid-like to vapor-like behavior of the translational diffusion coefficient, shear viscosity, and rotational relaxation time of supercritical oxygen. While the crossover of the translational diffusion coefficient and shear viscosity coincided with the Widom lines, the rotational relaxation time showed a crossover that was largely independent of the Widom line. Further, we characterized the clustering behavior and percolation transition of supercritical oxygen molecules, identified the percolation threshold based on the fractal dimension of the largest cluster and the probability of finding a cluster that spans the system in all three dimensions, and found that the locus of the percolation threshold also coincided with the isothermal compressibility Widom line. It is therefore clear that supercritical oxygen is far more complex than originally perceived and that the Widom line, dynamical crossovers, and percolation transitions serve as useful routes to better our understanding of the supercritical state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number014502
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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