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First-principles study of configurational disorder in B4C using a superatom-special quasirandom structure method
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Thin Film Physics. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Theoretical Physics. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Thin Film Physics. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2837-3656
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Thin Film Physics. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
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2014 (English)In: Physical Review B. Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, ISSN 1098-0121, E-ISSN 1550-235X, Vol. 90, no 2, 024204Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Configurationally disordered crystalline boron carbide, with the composition B4C, is studied using first-principles calculations. We investigate both dilute and high concentrations of carbon-boron substitutional defects. For the latter purpose, we suggest a superatoms picture of the complex structure and combine it with a special quasirandom structure approach for disorder. In this way, we model a random distribution of high concentrations of the identified low-energy defects: (1) bipolar defects and (2) rotation of icosahedral carbon among the three polar-up sites. Additionally, the substitutional disorder of the icosahedral carbon at all six polar sites, as previously discussed in the literature, is also considered. Two configurational phase transitions from the ordered to the disordered configurations are predicted to take place upon an increase in temperature using a mean-field approximation for the entropy. The first transition, at 870 K, induces substitutional disorder of the icosahedral carbon atoms among the three polar-up sites; meanwhile the second transition, at 2325 K, reveals the random substitution of the icosahedral carbon atoms at all six polar sites coexisting with bipolar defects. Already the first transition removes the monoclinic distortion existing in the ordered ground-state configuration and restore the rhombohedral system (R3m). The restoration of inversion symmetry yielding the full rhombohedral symmetry (R (3) over barm) on average, corresponding to what is reported in the literature, is achieved after the second transition. Investigating the effects of high pressure on the configurational stability of the disordered B4C phases reveals a tendency to stabilize the ordered ground-state configuration as the configurationally ordering/disordering transition temperature increases with pressure exerted on B4C. The electronic density of states, obtained from the disordered phases, indicates a sensitivity of the band gap to the degree of configurational disorder in B4C.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
American Physical Society , 2014. Vol. 90, no 2, 024204
National Category
Physical Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-109591DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.90.024204ISI: 000339481700003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-109591DiVA: diva2:739445
Conference
Conference name
Available from: 2014-08-21 Created: 2014-08-21 Last updated: 2017-12-05
In thesis
1. First-principles study of configurational disorder in icosahedral boron-rich solids
Open this publication in new window or tab >>First-principles study of configurational disorder in icosahedral boron-rich solids
2015 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is a theoretical study of configurationally disordered icosahedral boronrich solids, in particular boron carbides, using density functional theory and alloy theory. The goal is to resolve discrepancies, regarding the properties of boron carbides, between experiments and previous theoretical calculations which have been a controversial issue in the field of icosahedral boron-rich solids. For instance, B13C2 is observed experimentally to be a semiconductor, meanwhile electronic band structure calculations reveal a metallic character of B13C2 due to its electron deficiency. In B4C, on the other hand, the experimentally observed band gap is unexpectedly smaller, not the usual larger, than that of standard DFT calculations. Another example is given by the existence of a small structural distortion in B4C, as predicted in theoretical calculations, which reduces the crystal symmetry from the experimentally observed rhombohedral (R3m) to the based-centered monoclinic (Cm). Since boron carbide is stable as a single-phase over a broad composition range (~8-20 at.% C), substitution of boron and carbon atoms for one another is conceivable. For this reason, the discrepancies have been speculated in the literature, without a proof, to originate from configurational disorder induced by substitutional defects. However, owing to its complex  atomic structure, represented by 12-atom icosahedra and 3-atom intericosahedral chains, a practical alloy theory method for direct calculations of the properties of the relevant configurations of disordered boron carbides, as well as for a thermodynamic  assessment of their stability has been missing.

In this thesis, a new approach, the superatom-special quasirandom structure (SA-SQS), has been developed. The approach allows one to model configurational disorder in boron carbide, induced by high concentrations of low-energy B/C substitutional defects. B13C2 and B4C are the two stoichiometries, mainly considered in this study, as they are of particular importance and have been in focus in the literature. The results demonstrate that, from thermodynamic considerations, both B13C2 and B4C configurationally disorder at high temperature. In the case of B13C2, the configurational disorder splits off some valence states into the band gap that in turn compensates the electron deficiency in  ordered B13C2, thus resulting in a semiconducting character. As for B4C, the configurational disorder eliminates the monoclinic distortion, thus resulting in the restoration of the higher rhombohedral symmetry. Configurational disorder can also account for an excel lent agreement on elastic moduli of boron carbide between theory and experiment. Thus, several of the previous discrepancies between theory and experiments are resolved.

Inspired by attempts to enhance the mechanical properties of boron suboxide by fabricating boron suboxide-boron carbide composites, as recently suggested in the literature, the SA-SQS approach is used for modeling mixtures of boron suboxide (B6O) and boron carbide (B13C2), denoted by pseudo-binary (B6O)1–x(B13C2)x alloys. The knowledge of configurational disorder, gained from the previous studies of boron carbide, is applied to model the mixing alloys. By investigating the thermodynamics of mixing between B6O and B13C2, the phase diagram of the (B6O)1–x(B13C2)x alloys is outlined and it reveals the existence of a miscibility gap at all temperatures up to the melting point, indicating the coexistence of B6O-rich and either ordered or disordered B13C2-rich domains in (B6O)1–x(B13C2)x alloys under equilibrium condition. However, a limited intermixing of B6O and B13C2 to form solid solutions at high temperature is predicted, e.g. a solid solution of ~5% B13C2 in B6O and ~20% B6O in B13C2 at 2000 K.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2015. 55 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Thesis, ISSN 0280-7971 ; 1731
National Category
Physical Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-122426 (URN)10.3384/lic.diva-122426 (DOI)978-91-7685-921-6 (ISBN)
Presentation
2015-11-27, Planck, Fysikhuset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-11-02 Created: 2015-11-02 Last updated: 2016-08-31Bibliographically approved
2. Disordered Icosahedral Boron-Rich Solids: A Theoretical Study of Thermodynamic Stability and Properties
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Disordered Icosahedral Boron-Rich Solids: A Theoretical Study of Thermodynamic Stability and Properties
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is a theoretical study of configurational disorder in icosahedral boron-rich solids, in particular boron carbide, including also the development of a methodological framework for treating configurational disorder in such materials, namely superatom-special quasirandom structure (SA-SQS). In terms of its practical implementations, the SA-SQS method is demonstrated to be capable of efficiently modeling configurational disorder in icosahedral boron-rich solids, whiles the thermodynamic stability as well as the properties of the configurationally disordered icosahedral boron-rich solids, modeled from the SA-SQS method, can be directly investigated, using the density functional theory (DFT).

In case of boron carbide, especially B4C and B13C2 compositions, the SA-SQS method is used for modeling configurational disorder, arising from a high concentration of low-energy B/C substitutional defects. The results, obtained from the DFT-based calculations, demonstrate that configurational disorder of B and C atoms in boron carbide is not only thermodynamically favored at high temperature, but it also plays an important role in altering the properties of boron carbide − for example, restoration of higher rhombohedral symmetry of B4C, a metal-to-nonmetal transition and a drastic increase in the elastic moduli of B13C2. The configurational disorder can also explain large discrepancies, regarding the proper- ties of boron carbide, between experiments and previous theoretical calculations, having been a long standing controversial issue in the field of icosahedral boron- rich solids, as the calculated properties of the disordered boron carbides are found to be in qualitatively good agreement with those, observed in experiments. In order to investigate the configurational evolution of B4C as a function of temperature, beyond the SA-SQS level, a brute-force cluster-expansion method in combination with Monte Carlo simulations is implemented. The results demonstrate that configurational disorder in B4C indeed essentially takes place within the icosahedra in a way that justifies the focus on lowenergy defect patterns of the superatom picture.

The investigation of the thermodynamic stability of icosahedral carbon-rich boron carbides beyond the believed solubility limit of carbon (20 at.% C) demonstrates that, apart from B4C generally addressed in the literature, B2.5C represented by B10Cp2(CC) is predicted to be thermodynamically stable with respect to B4C as well as pure boron and carbon under high pressure, ranging between 40 and 67 GPa, and also at elevated temperature. B2.5C is expected to be metastable at ambient pressure, as indicated by its dynamical and mechanical stabilities at 0 GPa. A possible synthesis route of B2.5C and a fingerprint for its characterization from the simulations of x-ray powder diffraction pattern are suggested.

Besides modeling configurational disorder in boron carbide, the SA-SQS method also opens up for theoretical studies of new alloys between different icosahedral boron-rich solids − for example, (B6O)1−x(B13C2)x and B12(As1−xPx)2. As for the pseudo-binary (B6O)1−x(B13C2)x alloy, it is predicted to display a miscibility gap resulting in B6O-rich and either ordered or disordered B13C2-rich domains for intermediate global compositions at all temperatures up to melting points of the materials. However, some intermixing of B6O and B13C2 to form solid solutions is also predicted at high temperature. A noticeable mutual solubility of icosahedral B12As2 and B12P2 in each other to form B12(As1−xPx)2 disordered alloy is predicted even at room temperature, and a complete closure of a pseudo-binary miscibility gap is achieved at around 900 K.

Apart from B12(As1−xPx)2, the thermodynamic stability of other compounds and alloys in the ternary B-As-P system is also investigated. For the binary B-As system, zincblende BAs is found to be thermodynamically unstable with respect to icosahedral B12As2 and gray arsenic at 0 K and increasingly so at higher temperature, indicating that BAs may merely exist as a metastable phase. This is in contrast to the binary B-P system, in which zinc-blende BP and icosahedral B12P2 are both predicted to be stable. Owing to the instability of BAs with respect to B12As2 and gray arsenic, only a tiny amount of BAs is predicted to be able to dissolve in BP to form BAs1−xPx disordered alloy at elevated temperature. For example, less than 5% BAs can dissolve in BP at 1000 K. As for the binary As-P system, As1−xPx disordered alloys are predicted at elevated temperature − for example, a disordered solid solution of up to ∼75% As in black phosphorus as well as a small solubility of ∼1% P in gray arsenic at 750 K, together with the presence of miscibility gaps.

The thermodynamic stability of three different compositions of α-rhombohedral boron-like boron subnitride, having been proposed so far in the literature, is investigated. Those are, B6N, B13N2, and B38N6, represented respectively by B12(N-N), B12(NBN), and [B12(N-N)]0.33[B12(NBN)]0.67. It is found that, out of these sub- nitrides, only B38N6 is thermodynamically stable from 0 GPa up to ∼7.5 GPa, depending on the temperature, and is thus concluded as a stable composition of α-rhombohedral boron-like boron subnitride.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2017
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1843
Keyword
Icosahedral boron-rich solids, Boron carbide, Configurational disorder, First-principles calculations, Thermodynamic stability, Superatom-special quasirandom structure
National Category
Physical Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-136813 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-136813 (DOI)978-91-7685-544-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-06-16, Planck, Fysikhuset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-04-27 Created: 2017-04-27 Last updated: 2017-05-16Bibliographically approved

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Ektarawong, AnnopSimak, SergeyHultman, LarsBirch, JensAlling, Björn

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