Campus Units

Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Accepted Manuscript

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Journal or Book Title

Journal of Computational Physics





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We present an efficient numerical framework for analyzing spinodal decomposition described by the Cahn–Hilliard equation. We focus on the analysis of various implicit time schemes for two and three dimensional problems. We demonstrate that significant computational gains can be obtained by applying embedded, higher order Runge–Kutta methods in a time adaptive setting. This allows accessing time-scales that vary by five orders of magnitude. In addition, we also formulate a set of test problems that isolate each of the sub-processes involved in spinodal decomposition: interface creation and bulky phase coarsening. We analyze the error fluctuations using these test problems on the split form of the Cahn–Hilliard equation solved using the finite element method with basis functions of different orders. Any scheme that ensures at least four elements per interface satisfactorily captures both sub-processes. Our findings show that linear basis functions have superior error-to-cost properties.

This strategy – coupled with a domain decomposition based parallel implementation – let us notably augment the efficiency of a numerical Cahn–Hillard solver, and open new venues for its practical applications, especially when three dimensional problems are considered. We use this framework to address the isoperimetric problem of identifying local solutions in the periodic cube in three dimensions. The framework is able to generate all five hypothesized candidates for the local solution of periodic isoperimetric problem in 3D – sphere, cylinder, lamella, doubly periodic surface with genus two (Lawson surface) and triply periodic minimal surface (P Schwarz surface).


This is a manuscript of an article published as Wodo, Olga, and Baskar Ganapathysubramanian. "Computationally efficient solution to the Cahn–Hilliard equation: Adaptive implicit time schemes, mesh sensitivity analysis and the 3D isoperimetric problem." Journal of Computational Physics 230, no. 15 (2011): 6037-6060. DOI:10.1016/ Posted with permission.

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Elsevier Inc.



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