Paulo Piovano

Date of Award


Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mathematical Sciences


Irene Fonseca

Second Advisor

Giovanni Leoni


In this dissertation we study free boundary problems that model the evolution of interfaces in the presence of elasticity, such as thin film profiles and material void boundaries. These problems are characterized by the competition between the elastic bulk energy and the anisotropic surface energy.

First, we consider the evolution equation with curvature regularization that models the motion of a two-dimensional thin film by evaporation-condensation on a rigid substrate. The film is strained due to the mismatch between the crystalline lattices of the two materials and anisotropy is taken into account. We present the results contained in [62] where the author establishes short time existence, uniqueness and regularity of the solution using De Giorgi’s minimizing movements to exploit the L2 -gradient flow structure of the equation. This seems to be the first analytical result for the evaporation-condensation case in the presence of elasticity.

Second, we consider the relaxed energy introduced in [20] that depends on admissible pairs (E, u) of sets E and functions u defined only outside of E. For dimension three this energy appears in the study of the material voids in solids, where the pairs (E, u) are interpreted as the admissible configurations that consist of void regions E in the space and of displacements u of the atoms of the crystal. We provide the precise mathematical framework that guarantees the existence of minimal energy pairs (E, u). Then, we establish that for every minimal configuration (E, u), the function u is C 1,γ loc -regular outside an essentially closed subset of E. No hypothesis of starshapedness is assumed on the voids and all the results that are contained in [18] hold true for every dimension d ≥ 2.

Included in

Mathematics Commons