Saturday, December 15, 2018

Metastability and first-order phase transitions

One of the simplest examples of a first-order phase transition is occurs in a ferromagnet at a temperature below the critical temperature and in an external magnetic field. The transition occurs when the field is varied so that it changes sign.

This can be described in terms of the following Landau free energy where H is the external field and r is negative.
One observes hysteresis as for non-zero H there is a metastable state.
The order parameter phi versus H is shown below

The boundaries of the region of metastability are defined by the field Hc given by
The above description is taken from a review article by Kurt Binder.
I have never seen this in a textbook.
Have you?
Any clear detailed presentations of this topic would be appreciated.


  1. Hi Ross, there's a pretty good discussion in Chaikin and Lubensky, "Principles of condensed matter physics", Chap 4

  2. Basic Aspects of the Quantum Theory of Solids: Order and Elementary Excitations by Daniel Khomskii discusses 1st order phase transitions, spinodal lines etc as well.