Phase Transitions and Critical Phenomena: Classical Theories

  • Silvio R. A. Salinas
Part of the Graduate Texts in Contemporary Physics book series (GTCP)


Phase transitions and critical phenomena are usual events associated with an enormous variety of physical systems (simple fluids and mixtures of fluids, magnetic materials, metallic alloys, ferroelectric materials, superfluids and superconductors, liquid crystals, etc.). The doctoral dissertation of van der Waals, published in 1873, contains the first successful theory to account for the “continuity of the liquid and gaseous states of matter,” and remains an important instrument to analyze the critical behavior of fluid systems. The transition to ferromagnetism has also been explained, since the beginning of the twentieth century, by a phenomenological theory proposed by Pierre Curie, and developed by Pierre Weiss, which is closely related to the van der Waals theory. These classical theories of phase transitions are still used to describe qualitative aspects of phase transitions in all sorts of systems.


Critical Exponent Critical Phenomenon Helmholtz Free Energy Spontaneous Magnetization Coexistence Curve 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvio R. A. Salinas
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de FisicaUniversidade de São PaoloSão PaoloBrazil

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