*preprint*

**Inserted:** 22 feb 2024

**Year:** 2024

**Abstract:**

Variational models of phase transitions take into account double-well energies singularly perturbed by gradient terms, such as the Cahn-Hilliard free energy. The derivation by $\Gamma$-convergence of a sharp-interface limit for such energy is a classical result by Modica and Mortola. We consider a singular perturbation of a double-well energy by derivatives of order $k$, and show that we still can describe the limit as in the case $k=1$ with a suitable interfacial energy density, in accord with the case $k=1$ and with the case $k=2$ previously analyzed by Fonseca and Mantegazza. The main isssue is the derivation of an optimal-profile problem on the real line describing the interfacial energy density, which must be conveniently approximated by minimum problems on finite intervals with homogeneous condition on the derivatives at the endpoints up to order $k-1$. To that end a careful study must be carried on of sets where sequences of functions with equibounded energy are ``close to the wells'' and have ``small derivatives'', in terms of interpolation inequalities and energy estimates.