Coarsening of complex microstructures following spinodal decomposition

C. L. Park, J. W. Gibbs, P. W. Voorhees, K. Thornton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Coarsening plays a pivotal role in materials engineering, but our understanding of the dynamics of coarsening in morphologically complex systems is still limited. In this paper, we examine the correlations between the interfacial velocity and interfacial morphologies, and then predict the evolution of mean curvature based on the correlations. Three simulated structures with varying volume fractions, two bicontinuous and one nonbicontinuous, are generated using the Cahn-Hilliard equation. We find general correlations between interfacial velocity and mean curvature, as well as between interfacial velocity and the surface Laplacian of the mean curvature. Furthermore, we find that the probability of finding a patch of interface with a given normal velocity and the same local principal curvatures is described well by a Gaussian distribution, independent of the principal curvature values and the volume fractions of the structures. We also find that average interfacial velocity is described by a polynomial of the mean curvature and the net curvature. Based on this finding, we develop a semi-analytical approach to predicting the rate of change of the mean curvature, which determines the morphological evolution of complex microstructures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
JournalActa Materialia
StatePublished - Jun 15 2017


  • Coarsening
  • Curvature evolution
  • Interfacial velocity
  • Phase-field model
  • Spinodal decomposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys

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