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Keywords:

  • Microcanonical thermodynamics;
  • Phase transitions;
  • Surface tension

Abstract

Phase transitions of first and second order can easily be distinguished in small systems in the microcanonical ensemble. Configurations of phase coexistence, which are suppressed in the conventional canonical formulation, carry important information about the main characteristics of first order phase transitions like the transition temperature, the latent heat, and the interphase surface tension. The characteristic backbending of the microcanonical caloric equation of state T(E) (not to be confused with the well known Van der Waals loops in ordinary thermodynamics or mean field approximations) leading to a negative specific heat is intimately linked to the interphase surface entropy.