Quenched disorder forbids discontinuous transitions in nonequilibrium low-dimensional systems

Paula Villa Martín, Juan A. Bonachela, Miguel A. Muñoz

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35 Citations (Scopus)


Quenched disorder affects significantly the behavior of phase transitions. The Imry-Ma-Aizenman-Wehr-Berker argument prohibits first-order or discontinuous transitions and their concomitant phase coexistence in low-dimensional equilibrium systems in the presence of random fields. Instead, discontinuous transitions become rounded or even continuous once disorder is introduced. Here we show that phase coexistence and first-order phase transitions are also precluded in nonequilibrium low-dimensional systems with quenched disorder: discontinuous transitions in two-dimensional systems with absorbing states become continuous in the presence of quenched disorder. We also study the universal features of this disorder-induced criticality and find them to be compatible with the universality class of the directed percolation with quenched disorder. Thus, we conclude that first-order transitions do not exist in low-dimensional disordered systems, not even in genuinely nonequilibrium systems with absorbing states.

Original languageEnglish
Article number012145
Number of pages7
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2014


  • phase transition behaviour
  • nonequilibrium low-dimensional systems
  • discontinuous transitions


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