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Nucleation is the extremely localized budding of a distinct thermodynamic phase. Some examples of phases that may form via nucleation in liquids are gaseous bubbles, crystals, or glassy regions.

Creation of liquid droplets in saturated vapor is also characterized by nucleation.

Nucleation normally occurs at nucleation sites on surfaces contacting the liquid or vapor.

Suspended particles or minute bubbles also provide nucleation sites. This is called heterogeneous nucleation.

Nucleation without preferential nucleation sites is homogeneous nucleation. Homogeneous nucleation occurs spontaneously and randomly, but it requires superheating or supercooling of the medium.

Nucleation is involved in such processes as cloud seeding and in instruments such as the bubble chamber and the cloud chamber.

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