Nucleation site distribution is ubiquitous in many natural and industrial processes, such as liquid-to-vapor phase change, gas-evolving reactions, and solid-state material growth. However, a comprehensive understanding of the process remains elusive.
These limitations are due to the challenge of probing micro/nanoscopic nucleation sites and inadequate statistical interpretation of the process. Here researchers report the direct experimental observation of nucleation site distribution in droplet condensation using phase-enhanced environmental scanning electron microscopy. They also use statistical theory to demonstrate that the population of these sites is governed by the Poisson distribution, whereas the nearest-neighbor distance follows the Rayleigh distribution instead of the commonly used Poisson distribution.
The researchers further show the broad applicability of these insights into nucleation site distribution to hydrogen-evolving reactions and chemical vapor deposition. The platform, combining precise characterization and theory, advances the fundamental understanding of nucleation phenomena and guides designs from materials to medical devices.