Dynamic Transition Theory and its Application to Gas-Liquid Phase Transitions

CDSNS Colloquium
Monday, October 25, 2010 - 11:00
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 114
Indiana University
Gas-liquid transition is one of the most basic problem to study in equilibrium phase transitions. In the pressure-temperature phase diagram, the gas-liquid coexistence curve terminates at a critical point C, also called the Andrews critical point. It is, however, still an open question why the Andrews critical point exists and what is the order of transition going beyond this critical point. To answer this basic question, using the Landau's mean field theory and the Le Chatelier principle,  a dynamic model for the gas-liquid phase transitions is established. With this dynamic model, we are able to derive a theory on the Andrews critical point C: 1) the critical point is a switching point where the phase transition changes from the first order with latent heat to the third order, and 2) the liquid-gas phase transition going beyond Andrews point is of the third order. This clearly explains why it is hard to observe the liquid-gas phase transition going beyond the Andrews point. In addition, the study suggest an asymmetry principle of fluctuations, which appears also in phase transitions in ferromagnetic systems. The analysis is based on the dynamic transition theory we have developed recently with the philosophy to search the complete set of transition states. The theory has been applied to a wide range of nonlinear problems. A brief introduction for this theory will be presented as well. This is joint with Tian Ma.