Europhys. Lett.
Volume 38, Number 8, June II 1997
Page(s) 595 - 600
Section Condensed matter: structure, thermal and mechanical properties
Published online 01 September 2002
Role of metastable states in phase ordering dynamics DOI: 10.1209/epl/i1997-00289-y

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.


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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