Evolution of fivefold local symmetry during crystal nucleation and growth in dense hard-sphere packings
Crystal nucleation and growth of monodisperse hard-spheres as a function of packing density is studied by collision-driven molecular dynamics simulations. Short-range order in the form of fivefold local symmetry is identified and its dynamical and structural evolution is tracked as the originally amorphous assembly transits to the stable ordered phase. A cluster-based approach shows that hard-sphere configurations having initially a similar average fraction of fivefold and ordered sites can crystallize in completely different patterns both in terms of dynamics and morphology. It is found that at high volume fractions crystallization is significantly delayed in assemblies where sites with fivefold symmetry are abundant. Eventually, once the crystal phase is reached, fivefold symmetry either diminishes or arranges in specific geometric patterns. Such defects are spatially strongly correlated with twinning planes at crystalline boundaries. A detailed analysis is provided on the structural characteristics of the established crystal morphologies.