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Thermodynamics and Phase Transitions in Finite Open Systems
Speaker: Eva Kostadinova, Doctoral Candidate, CASPER, Baylor
Abstract: The statistical formulation of classical thermodynamics provides a connection between microscopic behavior and macroscopic measurable quantities, such as temperature, heat, and entropy. Conventional thermo-statistics applies only to homogeneous extensive systems in the thermodynamic limit. In other words, one needs to assume that the examined system extends to infinity without the presence of density fluctuations and that the entropy of its separate components is additive. These approximations are commonly used to facilitate the definition and investigation of phase transitions. However, a variety of natural systems (ranging from nuclei and atomic clusters to astrophysical objects under self-gravity) are neither infinite, nor homogeneous. This talk presents an alternative formulation of statistical mechanics, which reflects the geometry and topology of the 𝑁-body phase-space without the use of the thermodynamic limit. Specifically, the definitions of entropy, equation of state, and first-order phase transitions are adapted to the dynamics of finite non-homogeneous open systems. We conclude with a discussion on the applicability of the proposed theoretical approach to the case of strongly coupled Yukawa systems such as complex plasma fluids and crystals.
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