Thermodynamics and its prediction and CALPHAD modeling: Review, state of the art, and perspectives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Thermodynamics is a science concerning the state of a system, whether it is stable, metastable, or unstable, when interacting with its surroundings. The combined law of thermodynamics derived by Gibbs about 150 years ago laid the foundation of thermodynamics. In Gibbs combined law, the entropy production due to internal processes was not included, and the 2nd law was thus practically removed from the Gibbs combined law, so it is only applicable to systems under equilibrium, thus commonly termed as equilibrium or Gibbs thermodynamics. Gibbs further derived the classical statistical thermodynamics in terms of the probability of configurations in a system in the later 1800's and early 1900's. With the quantum mechanics (QM) developed in 1920's, the QM-based statistical thermodynamics was established and connected to classical statistical thermodynamics at the classical limit as shown by Landau in the 1940's. In 1960's the development of density functional theory (DFT) by Kohn and co-workers enabled the QM prediction of properties of the ground state of a system. On the other hand, the entropy production due to internal processes in non-equilibrium systems was studied separately by Onsager in 1930's and Prigogine and co-workers in the 1950's. In 1960's to 1970's the digitization of thermodynamics was developed by Kaufman in the framework of the CALculation of PHAse Diagrams (CALPHAD) modeling of individual phases with internal degrees of freedom. CALPHAD modeling of thermodynamics and atomic transport properties has enabled computational design of complex materials in the last 50 years. Our recently termed zentropy theory integrates DFT and statistical mechanics through the replacement of the internal energy of each individual configuration by its DFT-predicted free energy. The zentropy theory is capable of accurately predicting the free energy of individual phases, transition temperatures and properties of magnetic and ferroelectric materials with free energies of individual configurations solely from DFT-based calculations and without fitting parameters, and is being tested for other phenomena including superconductivity, quantum criticality, and black holes. Those predictions include the singularity at critical points with divergence of physical properties, negative thermal expansion, and the strongly correlated physics. Those individual configurations may thus be considered as the genomic building blocks of individual phases in the spirit of the materials genome®. This has the potential to shift the paradigm of CALPHAD modeling from being heavily dependent on experimental inputs to becoming fully predictive with inputs solely from DFT-based calculations and machine learning models built on those calculations and existing experimental data through newly developed and future open-source tools. Furthermore, through the combined law of thermodynamics including the internal entropy production, it is shown that the kinetic coefficient matrix of independent internal processes is diagonal with respect to the conjugate potentials in the combined law, and the cross phenomena that the phenomenological Onsager flux and reciprocal relationships are due to the dependence of the conjugate potential of a molar quantity on nonconjugate molar quantities and other potentials, which can be predicted by the zentropy theory and CALPHAD modeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102580
JournalCalphad: Computer Coupling of Phase Diagrams and Thermochemistry
StatePublished - Sep 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications

Cite this