From classical thermodynamics to phase-field method

Long Qing Chen, Yuhong Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

64 Citations (SciVal)


Phase-field method is a density-based computational method at the mesoscale for modeling and predicting the temporal microstructure and property evolution during materials processes. The focus of this article is on connecting the most common phase-field equations to the very basic first and second laws of classical thermodynamics through rudimentary irreversible thermodynamics. It briefly discusses the relations of the continuum phase-field equations to their counter parts at the microscopic and atomic levels. It attempts to clarify the contributions of long-range elastic, electrostatic, and magnetic interactions to domain structure evolution during structural, ferroelectric, and ferromagnetic phase transformations by separating order parameter changes due to the presence of quasi-static fields and those arising from phase transformations. A few examples are presented to demonstrate the possibility of employing the phase-field method to provide guidance to designing materials for optimum properties or discovering novel mesoscale phenomena or new materials functionalities. The article ends with a brief perspective on a number of potential future directions on the development and applications of phase-field method beyond its traditional applications to structural alloys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100868
JournalProgress in Materials Science
StatePublished - Feb 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)


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