Issues of self-consistency are reviewed for several unary equilibrium size distributions based on the capillarity approximation. Some apparent difficulties of interpretation are resolved. In terms of the kinetic approach to nucleation theory, the influence of self-consistency on the nucleation rate is shown to arise entirely from differences in the dimer evaporation rates for nearly all versions of classical theory. The nucleation rate behavior of the Kelvin model is explored. In this model, the Kelvin equation is used to prescribe all cluster evaporation rates. Nucleation rates predicted by the Kelvin model are quantitatively similar to those of the self-consistent classical (SCC) theory, but not to other simple versions of the classical theory. This behavior arises entirely from the relatively close coincidence of the SCC and Kelvin dimer evaporation rates. This means that, for the distribution-based versions of classical theory, the SCC model is the closest analogue of the Kelvin model. Because the Kelvin equation is fundamentally inadequate for very small clusters, the close relationship between the Kelvin and SCC formulations indicates that both are equally lacking in fundamental justification. The Kelvin model may, however, have some pragmatic utility, and a simple analytical rate expression is also derived for it to simplify the calculation of nucleation rates for this model.
G. Wilemski, "The Kelvin Equation And Self-Consistent Nucleation Theory," The Journal of Chemical Physics, vol. 103, no. 3, pp. 1119-1125, American Institute of Physics (AIP), Jul 1995.
The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.469822
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