Simulation of coarsening in two-phase systems with dissimilar mobilities

W. Beck Andrews, Peter W. Voorhees, Katsuyo Thornton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In this work, we apply phase field simulations to examine the coarsening behavior of morphologically complex two-phase microstructures in which the phases have highly dissimilar mobilities, a condition approaching that found in experimental solid-liquid systems. Specifically, we consider a two-phase system at the critical composition (50% volume fraction) in which the mobilities of the two phases differ by a factor of 100. This system is simulated in two and three dimensions using the Cahn-Hilliard model with a concentration-dependent mobility, and results are compared to simulations with a constant mobility. A morphological transition occurs during coarsening of the two-dimensional system (corresponding to a thin film geometry) with dissimilar mobilities, resulting in a system of nearly-circular particles of high-mobility phase embedded in a low-mobility matrix. This morphological transition causes the coarsening rate constant to decrease over time, which explains why a previous study found lack of agreement with the theoretical t1/3 power law. Three-dimensional systems with dissimilar mobilities resulted in bicontinuous microstructures that evolve self-similarly, as determined by quantitative analysis of the interfacial shape distribution. Coarsening kinetics in three dimensions agreed closely with the t1/3 power law after the initial transient stage. A model is derived to explain a nearly-linear relationship between the coarsening rate constant and the variance of scaled mean curvature that is observed during this transient stage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109418
JournalComputational Materials Science
StatePublished - Feb 15 2020


  • Coarsening
  • Morphology
  • Phase field modeling
  • Scaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Computational Mathematics

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