, Volume 138, Issue 1-3, pp 51-84
Date: 04 Feb 2010

Phase Separation in Confined Geometries

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The kinetics of phase separation or domain growth, subsequent to temperature quenches of binary mixtures from the one-phase region into the miscibility gap, still remains a challenging problem of nonequilibrium statistical mechanics. We have an incomplete understanding of many aspects of the growth of concentration inhomogeneities, including the effect of surfaces on this process, and the interplay with wetting phenomena and finite-size effects in thin films. In the present paper, an overview of the simulation approaches to this problem is given, with an emphasis on solutions of a diffusive Ginzburg-Landau model. We also discuss two recent alternative approaches: a local molecular field approximation to the Kawasaki spin exchange model on a lattice; and molecular dynamics simulations of a fluid binary Lennard-Jones mixture. A brief outlook to open questions is also given.