A solution may be in one of three states: stable, unstable, or metastable. If the solution is unstable, phase separation is spontaneous and proceeds by spinodal decomposition. If the solution is metastable, the solution must overcome an activation barrier for phase separation to proceed spontaneously. This mechanism is called nucleation and growth. Manipulating morphology using phase separation has been of great research interest because of its practical use to fabricate functional materials. The Cahn–Hilliard theory, incorporating Flory–Huggins free energy, has been used widely and successfully to model phase separation by spinodal decomposition in the unstable region. This model is used in this paper to mathematically model and numerically simulate the phase separation by nucleation and growth in the metastable state for a binary solution. Our numerical results indicate that Cahn–Hilliard theory is able to predict phase separation in the metastable region but in a region near the spinodal line.
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