We present and analyze a uniquely solvable and unconditionally energy stable numerical scheme for the ternary Cahn-Hilliard system, with a polynomial pattern nonlinear free energy expansion. One key difficulty is associated with presence of the three mass components, though a total mass constraint reduces this to two components. Another numerical challenge is to ensure the energy stability for the nonlinear energy functional in the mixed product form, which turns out to be non-convex, non-concave in the three-phase space. to overcome this subtle difficulty, we add a few auxiliary terms to make the combined energy functional convex in the three-phase space, and this, in turn, yields a convex-concave decomposition of the physical energy in the ternary system. Consequently, both the unique solvability and the unconditional energy stability of the proposed numerical scheme are established at a theoretical level. in addition, an optimal rate convergence analysis in the ℓ∞(0,T;HN-1)∩ℓ2(0,T;HN1) norm is provided, with Fourier pseudo-spectral discretization in space, which is the first such result in this field. to deal with the nonlinear implicit equations at each time step, we apply an efficient preconditioned steepest descent (PSD) algorithm. a second order accurate, modified BDF scheme is also discussed. a few numerical results are presented, which confirm the stability and accuracy of the proposed numerical scheme.


Mathematics and Statistics


National Science Foundation, Grant 2019B030301001

Keywords and Phrases

Convexity Analysis; Energy Stability; Fourier Pseudo-Spectral Approximation; Optimal Rate Convergence Analysis; Partial and Total Spreading; Ternary Cahn-Hilliard System

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1573-7691; 0885-7474

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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Publication Date

01 Aug 2020