The growth behaviour of liquid nucleus is crucial for crystal melting, but its kinetics is difficult to predict and remains challenging in experiment. Here we directly observed the growth of individual liquid nuclei in homogeneous melting of three-dimensional superheated colloidal crystals with single-particle dynamics by video microscopy. The growth rate of nucleus at weak superheating is well fitted by generalizing the Wilson-Frenkel law of crystallization to melting and including the surface tension effects and non-spherical-shape effects. As the degree of superheating increases, the growth rate is enhanced by nucleus shape fluctuation, nuclei coalescence and multimer attachment. The results provide new guidance for the refinement of nucleation theory, especially for the poorly understood strong-superheating regime. The universal Lindemann parameter observed at the superheat limit and solid-liquid interfaces indicates a connection between homogeneous and heterogeneous melting.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Ahmed Alsayed and Arjun Yodh for providing the NIPA colloids. The work was supported by GRF grants 601911 and 16301514.