A compactness result in the gradient theory of phase transitions

Antonio DeSimone, Stefan Müller, Robert V. Kohn, Felix Otto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine the singularly perturbed variational problem Eε(ψ) = ∫ ε-1(1 - |∇ψ|2)2 + ε|∇∇ψ|2 in the plane. As ε → 0, this functional favours |∇ψ| = 1 and penalizes singularities where |∇∇ψ| concentrates. Our main result is a compactness theorem: if {Eεε)}ε↓0 is uniformly bounded, then {∇ψε}ε↓0 is compact in L2. Thus, in the limit ε → 0, ψ solves the eikonal equation |∇ψ| = 1 almost everywhere. Our analysis uses 'entropy relations' and the 'div-curl lemma,' adopting Tartar's approach to the interaction of linear differential equations and nonlinear algebraic relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)833-844
Number of pages12
JournalRoyal Society of Edinburgh - Proceedings A
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics


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