A second order operator splitting method for Allen-Cahn type equations with nonlinear source terms

Hyun Geun Lee, June Yub Lee

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36 Scopus citations


Abstract Allen-Cahn (AC) type equations with nonlinear source terms have been applied to a wide range of problems, for example, the vector-valued AC equation for phase separation and the phase-field equation for dendritic crystal growth. In contrast to the well developed first and second order methods for the AC equation, not many second order methods are suggested for the AC type equations with nonlinear source terms due to the difficulties in dealing with the nonlinear source term numerically. In this paper, we propose a simple and stable second order operator splitting method. A core idea of the method is to decompose the original equation into three subequations with the free-energy evolution term, the heat evolution term, and a nonlinear source term, respectively. It is important to combine these three subequations in proper order to achieve the second order accuracy and stability. We propose a method with a half-time free-energy evolution solver, a half-time heat evolution solver, a full-time midpoint solver for the nonlinear source term, and a half-time heat evolution solver followed by a final half-time free-energy evolution solver. We numerically demonstrate the second order accuracy of the new numerical method through the simulations of the phase separation and the dendritic crystal growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15999
Pages (from-to)24-34
Number of pages11
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education ( 2009-0093827 , 2012-002298 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Fourier spectral method
  • Operator splitting method
  • Phase-field equation for dendritic crystal growth
  • Second order convergence
  • Vector-valued Allen-Cahn equation


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