Universal scaling effects of a temperature gradient at first-order transitions.

Research paper by Claudio C Bonati, Massimo M D'Elia, Ettore E Vicari

Indexed on: 16 Jul '14Published on: 16 Jul '14Published in: Physical review. E, Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics


We study the effects of smooth inhomogeneities at first-order transitions. We show that a temperature gradient at a thermally driven first-order transition gives rise to nontrivial universal scaling behaviors with respect to the length scale l_{t} of the variation of the local temperature T_{x}. We propose a scaling ansatz to describe the crossover region at the surface where T_{x}=T_{c}, where the typical discontinuities of a first-order transition are smoothed out. The predictions of this scaling theory are checked, and get strongly supported, by numerical results for the two-dimensional (2D) Potts models, for a sufficiently large number of states to have first-order transitions. Comparing with analogous results at the 2D Ising transition, we note that the scaling behaviors induced by a smooth inhomogeneity appear quite similar in first-order and continuous transitions.