Europhys. Lett, 38 (8), pp. 595-600 (1997)
Role of metastable states in phase ordering dynamics
R. M. L. Evans, W. C. K. Poon and M. E. Cates
Department of Physics & Astronomy, The University of Edinburgh - Edinburgh EH9 3JZ, UK
(received 19 March 1997; accepted in final form 13 May 1997)
PACS. 64.60My - Metastable phases.
PACS. 05.70Ln - Nonequilibrium thermodynamics, irreversible processes.
PACS. 82.70.Dd - Colloids.
Abstract:We show that the rate of separation of two phases of different densities (e.g. gas and solid) can be radically altered by the presence of a metastable intermediate phase (e.g. liquid). Within a Cahn-Hilliard theory we study the growth in one dimension of a solid droplet from a supersaturated gas. A moving interface between solid and gas phases (say) can, for sufficient (transient) supersaturation, unbind into two interfaces separated by a slab of metastable liquid phase. We investigate the criteria for unbinding, and show that it may strongly impede the growth of the solid phase.
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