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As an example, binary mixture phase separation in liquid due to quenching is typically explained by saying that because of decrease in temperature, the free energy landscape is such that splitting up into two phases will reduce the energy of the system. This 'reduction' in free energy of the system is achieved in the equilibrium/steady state limit. However, to go from just quenched state to this final state where the small-small nucleated phases have coalesced together there is a dynamic process involved which may not be quasistatic. Can we still say in these situations that the free energy minimization, which did not account for any dynamic processes, will be a valid principle in guiding the final outcome?

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    $\begingroup$ Thermodynamics is what the system wants to do. Kinetics is what the system can do at the moment. One outcome of quenching a binary mixture is an amorphous mess, if the quench rate was fast enough. That doesn't mean that the system, given time and an annealing temperature, won't make it there eventually. Diamonds are metastable forms of carbon. Thermodynamically, they still want to be graphite. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Jul 3 at 12:39

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