A phase field review

February 18, 2009

A review with emphasis on solidification problems:

The phase field technique for modeling multiphase materials

I Singer-Loginova and H M Singer

Abstract. This paper reviews methods and applications of the phase field technique, one of the fastest growing areas in computational materials science. The phase field method is used as a theory and computational tool for predictions of the evolution of arbitrarily shaped morphologies and complex microstructures in materials. In this method, the interface between two phases (e.g. solid and liquid) is treated as a region of finite width having a gradual variation of different physical quantities, i.e. it is a diffuse interface model. An auxiliary variable, the phase field or order parameter \phi(\vec{x}) , is introduced, which distinguishes one phase from the other. Interfaces are identified by the variation of the phase field. We begin with presenting the physical background of the phase field method and give a detailed thermodynamical derivation of the phase field equations. We demonstrate how equilibrium and non-equilibrium physical phenomena at the phase interface are incorporated into the phase field methods. Then we address in detail dendritic and directional solidification of pure and multicomponent alloys, effects of natural convection and forced flow, grain growth, nucleation, solid–solid phase transformation and highlight other applications of the phase field methods. In particular, we review the novel phase field crystal model, which combines atomistic length scales with diffusive time scales. We also discuss aspects of quantitative phase field modeling such as thin interface asymptotic analysis and coupling to thermodynamic databases. The phase field methods result in a set of partial differential equations, whose solutions require time-consuming large-scale computations and often limit the applicability of the method. Subsequently, we review numerical approaches to solve the phase field equations and present a finite difference discretization of the anisotropic Laplacian operator.

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