We propose a method for quantifying charge-driven instabilities in clusters, based on equilibrium simulations under confinement at constant external pressure. This approach makes no assumptions about the mode of decay and allows different clusters to be compared on an equal footing. A comprehensive survey of stability in model clusters of 309 Lennard-Jones particles augmented with Coulomb interactions is presented. We proceed to examine dynamic signatures of instability, finding that rate constants for ejection of charged particles increase smoothly as a function of total charge with no sudden changes. For clusters where many particles carry charge, ejection of individual charges competes with a fission process that leads to more symmetric division of the cluster into large fragments. The rate constants for fission depend much more sensitively on total charge than those for ejection of individual particles.
Bibliographical noteSpecial Issue: Special Issue in Honour of Jean-Pierre Hansen
- charged clusters
- Rayleigh limit