Coherent Solid-State Phase Transitions with Atomic Diffusion: A Thermomechanical Treatment

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Using the framework of modern continuum thermomechanics, we develop sharp- and diffuse-interface theories for coherent solid-state phase transitions. These theories account for atomic diffusion and for deformation. Of essential importance in our formulation of the sharp-interface theory are a system of “configurational forces” and an associated “configurational force balance.” These forces, which are distinct from standard Newtonian forces, describe the intrinsic material structure of a body. The configurational balance, when restricted to the interface, leads to a generalization of the classical Gibbs–Thomson relation, a generalization that accounts for the orientation dependence of the interfacial energy density and also for a broad spectrum of dissipative transition kinetics. Our diffuse-interface theory involves nonstandard “microforces” and an associated “microforce balance.” These forces arise naturally from an interpretation of the atomic densities as macroscopic parameters that describe atomistic kinematics distinct from the motion of material particles. When supplemented by thermodynamically consistent constitutive relations, the microforce balance yields a generalization of the Cahn–Hilliard relation giving the chemical potentials as variational derivatives of the total free energy with respect to the atomic densities. A formal asymptotic analysis (thickness of the transition layer approaching zero) demonstrates the correspondence between versions of our theories specialized to the case of a single mobile species for situations in which the time scale for interface propagation is small compared to that for bulk diffusion. While the configurational force balance is redundant in the diffuse-interface theory, when integrated over the transition layer, the limit of this balance is the interfacial configurational force balance (i.e., generalized Gibbs–Thomson relation) of the sharp-interface theory.

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