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Acta Cryst. (1993). A49, 791-792

Solids far from equilibrium

Edited by C. Godrèche

Pp. xvi + 588. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992
Price £60.00. ISBN 0-521-41170-X

The oddest and least informative thing about this book is its title. Fortunately, the flyleaf is more instructive and one learns that it contains six sets of pedagogical lectures, by internationally respected researchers into the statistical physics of crystal growth, given at a summer school in Beg-Rohu in 1989.

However, most crystal growth could be said to take place under local conditions of near-equilibrium. Only Chapter 5, by L. M. Sander (45 pp.), which treats fractals and diffusion-limited aggregation, covers situations that are really very far removed from local equilibrium.

The other chapters cover thermodynamic aspects of crystal shape and growth (Chapter 1, by P. Nozières, 154 pp.), instabilities of solidification (Chapter 2, by B. Caroli, C. Caroli & B. Roulet, 141 pp.) including dendritic growth (Chapter 4, by Y. Pomeau & M. Ben Amar, 67 pp.) and kinetic treatments of first-order phase transitions and kinetic roughening (Chapter 6, by J. Krug & H. Spohn, 93 pp.). The chapter by J. S. Langer (Chapter 3, 67 pp.) also covers spinodal decomposition.

This is a very authoritative book, but is limited in breadth of interest by a failure to make much, if any, attempt to relate to experiment. This criticism is not to be made against the chapter on `Instabilities of planar solidification fronts' by the Carolis & Roulet, but, in contrast, the chapter on `Dendritic growth' (Pomeau & Ben Amar) does not contain a single picture of a dendrite. Your reviewer suspects, however, that the book was not written for practising crystal growers but only for statistical physicists. A quick flip through the references confirms this: there are a dozen references to the Physical Review for every one to the Journal of Crystal Growth!

Notwithstanding this criticism, the book is a powerful contribution to the theory of the kinetics and the dynamical stability of crystal-growth processes. In particular, the treatments of the roughening transition by Nozière and of kinetic roughening by Krug & Spohn extend understanding of these topics significantly.

D. T. J. Hurle

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