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Thomas Witelski : Mean field models and transient effects for coarsening dynamics in fluid films



Motivated by the dewetting of viscous thin films on hydrophobic substrates, we study models for the coarsening dynamics of interacting localized structures in one dimension. For the thin films problem, lubrication theory yields a Cahn-Hilliard-type governing PDE which describes spinodal dewetting and the subsequent formation of arrays of metastable fluid droplets. The evolution for the masses and positions of the droplets can be reduced to a coarsening dynamical system (CDS) consisting of a set of coupled ODEs and deletion rules. Previous studies have established that the number of drops will follow a statistical scaling law, N(t)=O(t^{-2/5}). We derive a Lifshitz-Slyozov-Wagner-type (LSW) continuous model for the drop size distribution and compare it with discrete models derived from the CDS. Large deviations from self-similar LSW dynamics are examined on short- to moderate-times and are shown to conform to bounds given by Kohn and Otto. Insight can be applied to similar models in image processing and other problems in materials science. Joint work with M.B. Gratton (Northwestern Applied Math).

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