A Numerical and Analytical Analysis of the Physics of Phase-Separation Fronts
Foard, Eric Merlin
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My dissertation is an investigation into the basic Physics of phase separation fronts. Such phase-separation fronts occur in many practical applications, like the formation of immersion precipitation membranes, Temperature induced phase-separation of polymeric blends, or the formation of steel. Despite the fact that these phenomena are ubiquitous no generally acceptable theory of phase-separation front exists. I believe the reason lies in the complexity of many of these material systems where a large number of physical effects (like phase-separation, crystallization, hydrodynamics, etc) cooperate to generate these structures. As a Physicist, I was driven to develop an understanding of these systems, and we choose to start our investigation with the simplest system that would incorporate a phase-separation front. So we initially limited our study to systems with a purely diffusive dynamics. The phase-separation front is induced by a control-parameter front that is a simple step function advancing with a prescribed velocity. We investigated these systems numerically using a lattice Boltzmann method and also investigated them analytically as much as possible. Starting from a one-dimensional front moving with a constant velocity we then extended the complexity of the systems by increasing the number of dimensions, examining a variable front velocity, and finally by including hydrodynamics.