The Critical Wetting Saga: How to Draw the Correct Conclusion Articles uri icon

publication date

  • November 2008


  • 49


  • 20

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0953-8984

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1361-648X


  • A long-standing problem in condensed matter physics concerns the nature of the critical wetting phase transition in the Ising model or, more generally, in 3D systems with short-ranged forces. This is of fundamental interest because 3D corresponds to the upper critical dimension of the transition and it is not clear a priori whether the behaviour of the system will be mean-field-like or fluctuation-dominated. Renormalization group studies of the standard coarse-grained effective interfacial Hamiltonian model famously predict strong non-universal critical exponents which depend on the value of the so-called wetting parameter omega. However, these predictions are at odds with extensive Monte Carlo simulations of wetting in the Ising model, due to Binder, Landau and coworkers, which appear to be more mean-field-like. Further amendments to the interfacial Hamiltonian, which included the presence of a position-dependent stiffness, worsened the problem by paradoxically predicting fluctuation-induced first-order wetting behaviour.