We report on the results of a systematic ab initio study of the magnetic structure of Fe rich fcc FeNi binary alloys for Ni concentrations up to 50 at. %. Calculations are carried out within density-functional theory using two complementary techniques, one based on the exact muffin-tin orbital theory within the coherent potential approximation and another one based on the projector augmented-wave method. We observe that the evolution of the magnetic structure of the alloy with increasing Ni concentration is determined by a competition between a large number of magnetic states, collinear as well as noncollinear, all close in energy. We emphasize a series of transitions between these magnetic structures, in particular we have investigated a competition between disordered local moment configurations, spin spiral states, the double layer antiferromagnetic state, and the ferromagnetic phase, as well as the ferrimagnetic phase with a single spin flipped with respect to all others. We show that the latter should be particularly important for the understanding of the magnetic structure of the Invar alloys.
First-principles calculations are employed to investigate the stability and properties of cubic rock-salt like (Cr_{1−x}Al_{x})_{2}O_{3} solid solutions, stabilized by metal site vacancies as recently reported experimentally. It is demonstrated that the metal site vacancies can indeed be ordered in a way that gives rise to a favorable coordination of all O atoms in the lattice. B1-like structures with ordered and disordered metal site vacancies are studied for (Cr_{0.5}Al_{0.5})_{2}O_{3} and found to a have cubic lattice spacing close to the values reported experimentally, in contrast to fluorite-like and perovskite structures. The obtained B1-like structures are higher in energy than corundum solid solutions for all compositions, but with an energy offset per atom similar to other metastable systems possible to synthesize with physical vapor deposition techniques. The obtained electronic structures show that the B1-like systems are semiconducting although with smaller band gaps than the corundum structure.
First-principles calculations are employed to investigate the stability and properties of cubic rock-salt-like (Cr_{1−}_{x}Al_{x})_{2}O_{3} solid solutions, stabilized by metal site vacancies as recently reported experimentally. It is demonstrated that the metal site vacancies can indeed be ordered in a way that gives rise to a suitable fourfold coordination of all O atoms in the lattice. B1-like structures with ordered and disordered metal site vacancies are studied for (Cr_{0.5}Al_{0.5})_{2}O_{3} and found to have a cubic lattice spacing close to the values reported experimentally, in contrast to fluorite-like and perovskite structures. The obtained B1-like structures are higher in energy than corundum solid solutions for all compositions, but with an energy offset per atom similar to other metastable systems possible to synthesize with physical vapor deposition techniques. The obtained electronic structures show that the B1-like systems are semiconducting although with smaller band gaps than the corundum structure.
Wedescribe an efficient first-principles method that can be used tocalculate mixing enthalpies of transition metal nitrides with B1 structureand substitutional disorder at the metal sublattice. The technique isbased on the density functional theory. The independent sublattice modelis suggested for the treatment of disorder-induced local lattice relaxationeffects. It supplements the description of the substitutional disorder withinthe coherent potential approximation. We demonstrate the excellent accuracy ofthe method by comparison with calculations performed by means ofthe projector augumented wave method on supercells constructed as specialquasirandom structures. At the same time, the efficiency of thetechnique allows for total energy calculations on a very finemesh of concentrations which enables a reliable calculation of thesecond concentration derivative of the alloy total energy. This isa first step towards first-principles predictions of concentrations and temperatureintervals where the alloy decomposition proceeds via the spinodal mechanism.We thus calculate electronic structure, lattice parameter, and mixing enthalpiesof the quasibinary alloy c-Ti_{1−x}Al_{x}N. The lattice parameter follows Vegard'slaw at low fractions of AlN but deviates increasingly withincreasing Al content. We show that the asymmetry of themixing enthalpy and its second concentration derivative is associated withsubstantial variations of the electronic structure with alloy composition. Thephase diagram is constructed within the mean-field approximation.
We have performed a numerical study of the process of electron localization in reduced ceria. Our results show that different localized charge distributions can be attained in a bulk system by varying the lattice parameter. We demonstrate that the effect of electron localization is mainly determined by lattice relaxation and an accurate account for the effects of electronic correlation is necessary to achieve localized charge distribution.
The new high-temperature (T), high-pressure (P), body-centered cubic (bcc) phase of iron has probably already been synthesized in recent diamond anvil cell (DAC) experiments (Mikhaylushkin et al 2007 Phys. Rev. Lett. 99 165505). These DAC experiments on iron revealed that the high-PT phase on quenching transforms into a mixture of close-packed phases. Our molecular dynamics simulation and structural analysis allow us to provide a probable interpretation of the experiments. We show that quenching of the high-PT bcc phase simulated with the embedded-atom model also leads to the formation of the mixture of close-packed phases. Therefore, the assumption of the stability of the high-PT bcc iron phase is consistent with experimental observation.
The Gibbs free energies of bcc and fcc Mo are calculated from first principles in the quasiharmonic approximation in the pressure range from 350 to 850 GPa at room temperatures up to 7500 K. It is found that Mo, stable in the bcc phase at low temperatures, has lower free energy in the fcc structure than in the bcc phase at elevated temperatures. Our density-functional-theory-based molecular dynamics simulations demonstrate that fcc melts at higher than bcc temperatures above 1.5 Mbar. Our calculated melting temperatures and bcc-fcc boundary are consistent with the Mo Hugoniot sound speed measurements. We find that melting occurs at temperatures significantly above the bcc-fcc boundary. This suggests an explanation of the recent diamond anvil cell experiments, which find a phase boundary in the vicinity of our extrapolated bcc-fcc boundary.
The Earths solid inner core is a highly attenuating medium. It consists mainly of iron. The high attenuation of sound wave propagation in the inner core is at odds with the widely accepted paradigm of hexagonal close-packed phase stability under inner core conditions, because sound waves propagate through the hexagonal iron without energy dissipation. Here we show by first-principles molecular dynamics that the body-centered cubic phase of iron, recently demonstrated to be thermodynamically stable under the inner core conditions, is considerably less elastic than the hexagonal phase. Being a crystalline phase, the body-centered cubic phase of iron possesses the viscosity close to that of a liquid iron. The high attenuation of sound in the inner core is due to the unique diffusion characteristic of the body-centered cubic phase. The low viscosity of iron in the inner core enables the convection and resolves a number of controversies.
The Earths solid core is mostly composed of iron. However, despite being central to our understanding of core properties, the stable phase of iron under inner-core conditions remains uncertain. The two leading candidates are hexagonal close-packed and body-centred cubic (bcc) crystal structures, but the dynamic and thermodynamic stability of bcc iron under inner-core conditions has been challenged. Here we demonstrate the stability of the bcc phase of iron under conditions consistent with the centre of the core using ab initio molecular dynamics simulations. We find that the bcc phase is stabilized at high temperatures by a diffusion mechanism that arises due to the dynamical instability of the phase at lower temperatures. On the basis of our simulations, we reinterpret experimental data as support for the stability of bcc iron under inner-core conditions. We suggest that the diffusion of iron atoms in solid state may explain both the anisotropy and the low shear modulus of the inner core.
The solid Earths inner core (IC) is a sphere with a radius of about 1300 km in the center of the Earth. The information about the IC comes mainly from seismic studies. The composition of the IC is obtained by matching the seismic data and properties of candidate phases subjected to high pressure (P) and temperature (T). The close match between the density of the IC and iron suggests that the main constituent of the IC is iron. However, the stable phase of iron is still a subject of debate. One such iron phase, the body-centered cubic phase (bcc), is dynamically unstable at pressures of the IC (330-364 GPa) and low T but gets stabilized at high T characteristic of the IC (5000-7000 K). So far, ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) studies attempted to compute the bcc elastic properties for a small (order of 102) number of atoms. The mechanism of the bcc stabilization cannot be enabled in such cells and that has led to erroneous results. Here we apply AIMD to compute elastic moduli and sound velocities of the Fe bcc phase for a 2000 Fe atom computational cell, which is a cell of unprecedented size for ab initio calculations of iron. Unlike in previous ab initio calculations, both the longitudinal and the shear sound velocities of the Fe bcc phase closely match the properties of the IC material at P = 360 GPa and T = 6600 K, likely the PT conditions in the IC. The calculated density of the bcc iron at these PT conditions is just 3% higher than the density of the IC material according to the Preliminary Earth Model. This suggests that the widely assumed amount of light elements in the IC may need a reconsideration. The anisotropy of the bcc phase is an exact match to the most recent seismic studies.
The phase diagram of iridium is investigated using the Z methodology. The Z methodology is a technique for phase diagram studies that combines the direct Z method for the computation of melting curves and the inverse Z method for the calculation of solid-solid phase boundaries. In the direct Z method, the solid phases along the melting curve are determined by comparing the solid-liquid equilibrium boundaries of candidate crystal structures. The inverse Z method involves quenching the liquid into the most stable solid phase at various temperatures and pressures to locate a solid-solid boundary. Although excellent agreement with the available experimental data (to less than or similar to 65 GPa) is found for the equation of state (EOS) of Ir, it is the third-order Birch-Murnaghan EOS with B-0 = 5 rather than the more widely accepted B-0 = 4 that describes our ab initio data to higher pressure (P). Our results suggest the existence of a random-stacking hexagonal close-packed structure of iridium at high P. We offer an explanation for the 14-layer hexagonal structure observed in experiments by Cerenius and Dubrovinsky.
The phase diagram of iridium is investigated using the Z methodology in conjunction with the VASP ab initio molecular dynamics package. The Z methodology is a novel technique for phase diagram studies which combines the direct Z method for the computation of melting curves and the inverse Z method for the calculation of solid-solid phase boundaries. We compare our results to the available experimental data on iridium. We offer explanation for the 14-layer hexagonal structure observed in experiments by Cerenius and Dubrovinsky.
Phase diagrams of refractory metals remain essentially unknown. Moreover, there is an ongoing controversy over the high-pressure melting temperatures of these metals: results of diamond anvil cell (DAC) and shock wave experiments differ by at least a factor of 2. From an extensive ab initio study on tantalum we discovered that the body-centered cubic phase, its physical phase at ambient conditions, transforms to another solid phase, possibly hexagonal omega phase, at high temperature. Hence the sample motion observed in DAC experiments is very likely not due to melting but internal stresses accompanying a solid-solid transformation, and thermal stresses associated with laser heating.
The melting curves of rhenium and osmium to megabar pressures are obtained from an extensive suite of ab initio quantum molecular dynamics (QMD) simulations using the Z method. In addition, for Re, we combine QMD simulations with total free energy calculations to obtain its phase diagram. Our results indicate that Re, which generally assumes a hexagonal close-packed (hcp) structure, melts from a face-centered cubic (fcc) structure in the pressure range 20-240 GPa. We conclude that the recent DAC data on Re to 50 GPa in fact encompass both the true melting curve and the low-slope hcp-fcc phase boundary above a triple point at (20 GPa, 4240 K). A linear fit to the Re diamond anvil cell (DAC) data then results in a slope that is 2.3 times smaller than that of the actual melting curve. The phase diagram of Re is topologically equivalent to that of Pt calculated by us earlier on. Regularities in the melting curves of Re, Os, and five other 3rd-row transition metals (Ta, W, Ir, Pt, Au) form the 3rd-row transition metal melting systematics. We demonstrate how this systematics can be used to estimate the currently unknown melting curve of the eighth 3rd-row transition metal Hf.
The magnetic anisotropy energy (MAE) of Fe, Co, and Ni is presented for tetragonal and trigonal structures along two paths of structural distortion connecting the bcc and the fcc structure. The MAE was calculated from first principles with the full-potential linear muffin-tin orbital method and the force theorem. As is expected from symmetry considerations, the MAE increases by orders of magnitude when the cubic symmetry is broken. For tetragonal structures of Co and Ni a regular behavior of the MAE is observed, i.e., only the symmetry dictated nodes at the cubic structures appear along this path of distortion. In the case of tetragonal Fe, additional reorientations of the easy axis occur that are attributed to a topological change of the Fermi surface upon distortion. For the trigonal structures of all three elements the strain dependence of the MAE is more complicated, with additional reorientations of the easy axis and an unexpectedly large MAE for certain distortions of Ni, and a strongly nonlinear behavior for trigonal structures of Co close to fcc. Furthermore, the linear magnetoelastic coupling coefficients are calculated from the MAE at small distortions from the cubic equilibrium structure of the three elements. Two different Brillouin-zone integration techniques were used to calculate the MAE. Since the Gaussian broadening method smears out details of the Fermi surface, it results in a different MAE as compared to the tetrahedron method in some cases.
The uniaxial magnetic anisotropy energy (MAE) of L 10 FePt and Fe1-x Mnx Pt, x=0-0.25, was studied from first principles using two fully relativistic computational methods, the full-potential linear muffin-tin orbitals method and the exact muffin-tin orbitals method. It was found that the large MAE of 2.8 meV/f.u. is caused by a delicate interaction between the Fe and Pt atoms, where the large spin-orbit coupling of the Pt site and the hybridization between Fe 3d and Pt 5d states is crucial. The effect of random order on the MAE was modeled by mutual alloying of the sublattices within the coherent potential approximation (CPA), and a strong dependence of the MAE on the degree of chemical long-range order was found. The alloying of FePt with Mn was investigated with the virtual crystal approximation and the CPA as well as supercell calculations. The MAE increases up to 33% within the concentration range studied here, an effect that is attributed to band filling. Furthermore, the dependence of the MAE on the structural properties was studied. © 2005 The American Physical Society.
Modelling of processes involving deep Earth liquids requires information on their structures and compression mechanisms. However, knowledge of the local structures of silicates and silica (SiO2) melts at deep mantle conditions and of their densification mechanisms is still limited. Here we report the synthesis and characterization of metastable high-pressure silica phases, coesite-IV and coesite-V, using in situ single-crystal X-ray diffraction and ab initio simulations. Their crystal structures are drastically different from any previously considered models, but explain well features of pair-distribution functions of highly densified silica glass and molten basalt at high pressure. Built of four, five-, and six-coordinated silicon, coesite-IV and coesite-V contain SiO6 octahedra, which, at odds with 3rd Paulings rule, are connected through common faces. Our results suggest that possible silicate liquids in Earths lower mantle may have complex structures making them more compressible than previously supposed.
We study the effect of electronic Coulomb correlations on the vacancy formation energy in paramagnetic alpha-Fe within ab initio dynamical mean-field theory. The calculated value for the formation energy is substantially lower than in standard density-functional calculations and in excellent agreement with experiment. The reduction is caused by an enhancement of electronic correlations at the nearest neighbors of the vacancy. This effect is explained by subtle changes in the corresponding spectral function of the d electrons. The local lattice relaxations around the vacancy are substantially increased by many-body effects.
By means of ab-initio calculations, we perform an analysis of the configurational thermodynamics, effects of disorder, and structural energy differences in Fe-Ni alloys at the pressure and temperature conditions of the Earths core. We show from ab-initio calculations that the ordering energies of fcc and hcp-structured Fe-Ni solid solutions at these conditions depend sensitively on the alloy configuration, i.e., on the degree of chemical disorder, and are on a scale comparable with the structural energy differences. From configurational thermodynamic simulations we find that a distribution of Fe and Ni atoms in the solutions should be very close to completely disordered at these conditions. Using this model of the Fe-Ni system, we have calculated the fcc-hcp structural free energy difference in a wide pressure-temperature range of 120-360 GPa and 1000-6600K. Our calculations show that alloying of Fe with Ni below 3000 K favours stabilisation of the fcc phase over the hcp, in agreement with experiments. However, above 3000 K the effect is reversed, and at conditions corresponding to those of the Earths inner core, Ni acts as an agent to stabilise the hcp phase.
Binary silicon boride SiB3 has been reported to occur in two forms, as disordered and nonstoichiometric alpha-SiB3-x, which relates to the alpha-rhombohedral phase of boron, and as strictly ordered and stoichiometric beta-SiB3. Similar to other boron-rich icosahedral solids, these SiB3 phases represent potentially interesting refractory materials. However, their thermal stability, formation conditions, and thermodynamic relation are poorly understood. Here, we map the formation conditions of alpha-SiB3-x and beta-SiB3 and analyze their relative thermodynamic stabilities. alpha-SiB3-x is metastable (with respect to beta-SiB3 and Si), and its formation is kinetically driven. Pure polycrystalline bulk samples may be obtained within hours when heating stoichiometric mixtures of elemental silicon and boron at temperatures 1200-1300 degrees C. At the same time, alpha-SiB3-x decomposes into SiB6 and Si, and optimum time-temperature synthesis conditions represent a trade-off between rates of formation and decomposition. The formation of stable beta-SiB3 was observed after prolonged treatment (days to weeks) of elemental mixtures with ratios Si/B = 1:11:4 at temperatures 1175-1200 degrees C. The application of high pressures greatly improves the kinetics of SiB3 formation and allows decoupling of SiB3 formation from decomposition. Quantitative formation of beta-SiB3 was seen at 1100 degrees C for samples pressurized to 5.5-8 GPa. beta-SiB3 decomposes peritectoidally at temperatures between 1250 and 1300 degrees C. The highly ordered nature of beta-SiB3 is reflected in its Raman spectrum, which features narrow and distinct lines. In contrast, the Raman spectrum of alpha-SiB3-x is characterized by broad bands, which show a clear relation to the vibrational modes of isostructural, ordered B6P. The detailed composition and structural properties of disordered alpha-SiB3-x were ascertained by a combination of single-crystal X-ray diffraction and Si-29 magic angle spinning NMR experiments. Notably, the compositions of polycrystalline bulk samples (obtained at T amp;lt;= 1200 degrees C) and single crystal samples (obtained from Si-rich molten Si-B mixtures at T amp;gt; 1400 degrees C) are different, SiB2.93(7) and SiB2.64(2), respectively. The incorporation of Si in the polar position of B-12 icosahedra results in highly strained cluster units. This disorder feature was accounted for in the refined crystal structure model by splitting the polar position into three sites. The electron-precise composition of alpha-SiB3-x is SiB2.5 and corresponds to the incorporation of, on average, two Si atoms in each B-12 icosahedron. Accordingly, alpha-SiB3-x constitutes a mixture of B10Si2 and B11Si clusters. The structural and phase stability of alpha-SiB3-x were explored using a first-principles cluster expansion. The most stable composition at 0 K is SiB2.5, which however is unstable with respect to the decomposition beta-SiB3 + Si. Modeling of the configurational and vibrational entropies suggests that alpha-SiB3-x only becomes more stable than beta-SiB3 at temperatures above its decomposition into SiB6 and Si. Hence, we conclude that alpha-SiB3-x is metastable at all temperatures. Density functional theory electronic structure calculations yield band gaps of similar size for electron-precise alpha-SiB2.5 and beta-SiB3, whereas alpha-SiB3 represents a p-type conductor.
CaMn1-xNbxO3 (x = 0, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7 and 0.10) thin films have been grown by a two-step sputtering/annealing method. First, rock-salt-structured (Ca,Mn1-x,Nb-x)O thin films were deposited on 11 & x304;00 sapphire using reactive RF magnetron co-sputtering from elemental targets of Ca, Mn and Nb. The CaMn1-xNbxO3 films were then obtained by thermally induced phase transformation from rock-salt-structured (Ca,Mn1-xNbx)O to orthorhombic during post-deposition annealing at 700 degrees C for 3 h in oxygen flow. The X-ray diffraction patterns of pure CaMnO3 showed mixed orientation, while Nb-containing films were epitaxially grown in [101] out of-plane-direction. Scanning transmission electron microscopy showed a Ruddlesden-Popper (R-P) secondary phase in the films, which results in reduction of the electrical and thermal conductivity of CaMn1-xNbxO3. The electrical resistivity and Seebeck coefficient of the pure CaMnO3 film were measured to 2.7 omega cm and -270 mu V K-1 at room temperature, respectively. The electrical resistivity and Seebeck coefficient were reduced by alloying with Nb and was measured to 0.09 omega cm and -145 mu V K-1 for x = 0.05. Yielding a power factor of 21.5 mu W K-2 m(-1) near room temperature, nearly eight times higher than for pure CaMnO3 (2.8 mu W K-2 m(-1)). The power factors for alloyed samples are low compared to other studies on phase-pure material. This is due to high electrical resistivity originating from the secondary R-P phase. The thermal conductivity of the CaMn1-xNbxO3 films is low for all samples and is the lowest for x = 0.07 and 0.10, determined to 1.6 W m(-1) K-1. The low thermal conductivity is attributed to grain boundary scattering and the secondary R-P phase.
We investigate the thermodynamic stability of carbon-rich icosahedral boron carbide at different compositions, ranging from B4C to B2C, using first-principles calculations. Apart fromB4C, generally addressed in the literature, B2.5C, represented by B10C2p (C-C), where C-p and (C-C) denote a carbon atom occupying the polar site of the icosahedral cluster and a diatomic carbon chain, respectively, is predicted to be thermodynamically stable under high pressures with respect to B4C as well as pure boron and carbon phases. The thermodynamic stability of B2.5C is determined by the Gibbs free energy G as a function of pressure p and temperature T, in which the contributions from the lattice vibrations and the configurational disorder are obtained within the quasiharmonic and the mean-field approximations, respectively. The stability range of B2.5C is then illustrated through the p-T phase diagrams. Depending on the temperatures, the stability range of B2.5C is predicted to be within the range between 40 and 67 GPa. At T greater than or similar to 500 K, the icosahedral C-p atoms in B2.5C configurationally disorder at the polar sites. By investigating the properties of B2.5C, e.g., elastic constants and phonon and electronic density of states, we demonstrate that B2.5C is both mechanically and dynamically stable at zero pressure, and is an electrical semiconductor. Furthermore, based on the sketched phase diagrams, a possible route for experimental synthesis of B2.5C as well as a fingerprint for its characterization from the simulations of x-ray powder diffraction pattern are suggested.
The overestimation, rather than the usual underestimation, of the electronic band gap at 0 K of boron carbide with the ideally stoichiometric composition of B4C, represented by B11CP (CBC), in density functional theory calculations is one of the outstanding controversial issues in the field of icosahedral boron-rich solids. Using a first-principles approach, we explore the effect of temperature and configurational disorder on the electronic band gap of B4C. Ab initio molecular dynamics simulations are performed to account for the effects of vibrational disorder. The results reveal that the volumetric thermal expansion as well as the thermally induced configurational disorder of icosahedral C-P atoms residing in the B11CP icosahedra have a minimal impact on the band gap of B4C, while a major decrease of the band gap is caused by explicit atomic displacements, induced by lattice vibrations. At 298 K, the band gap of B4C is overestimated, as compared to the experimental value, by approximately 31%. However, configurational disorder induced by introducing a small fraction of B-12 (CBC) and B-12 (B-4) into a matrix of B11CP (CBC) to make the composition of boron carbide approximately B4.3C, claimed to be the carbon-rich limit of the material in experiment, leads to a smaller band gap due to the appearance of midgap states. These results can explain at least a part of the previous discrepancies between theory and experiments for the band gap of boron carbide.
We examine the thermodynamic stability of compounds and alloys in the ternary B-As-P system theoretically using first-principles calculations. We demonstrate that the icosahedral B12As2 is the only stable compound in the binary B-As system, while the zinc-blende BAs is thermodynamically unstable with respect to B12As2 and the pure arsenic phase at 0 K, and increasingly so at higher temperature, suggesting that BAs may merely exist as a metastable phase. On the contrary, in the binary B-P system, both zinc-blende BP and icosahedral B12P2 are predicted to be stable. 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 similar to 75 at.% As in black phosphorus as well as a small solubility of similar to 1 at.% P in gray arsenic at T = 750 K, together with the presence of miscibility gaps. The calculated large solubility of As in black phosphorus explains the experimental syntheses of black-phosphorus-type As1-xPx alloys with tunable compositions, recently reported in the literature. We investigate the phase stabilities in the ternary B-As-P system and demonstrate a high tendency for a formation of alloys in the icosahedral B-12(As1-xPx)(2) structure by intermixing of As and P atoms at the diatomic chain sites. The phase diagram displays noticeable mutual solubility of the icosahedral subpnictides in each other even at room temperature as well as a closure of a pseudobinary miscibility gap around 900 K. As for pseudobinary BAs1-xPx alloys, only a tiny amount of BAs is predicted to be able to dissolve in BP to form the BAs1-xPx disordered alloys at elevated temperature. For example, less than 5% of BAs can dissolve in BP at T = 1000 K. The small solubility limit of BAs in BP is attributed to the thermodynamic instability of BAs with respect to B12As2 and As.
We perform first-principles calculations to investigate the phase stability of boron carbide, concentrating on the recently proposed alternative structural models composed not only of the regularly studied B11Cp(CBC) and B-12(CBC), but also of B-12(CBCB) and B-12(B-4). We find that a combination of the four structural motifs can result in low-energy electron precise configurations of boron carbide. Among several considered configurations within the composition range of B10.5C and B4C, we identify in addition to the regularly studied B11Cp(CBC) at the composition of B4C two low-energy configurations, resulting in a new view of the B-C convex hull. Those are [B-12(CBC)](0.67)[B-12(B-4)](0.33) and [B-12(CBC)](0.67)[B-12(CBCB)](0.33), corresponding to compositions of B10.5C and B6.67C, respectively. As a consequence, B-12(CBC) at the composition of B6.5C, previously suggested in the literature as a stable configuration of boron carbide, is no longer part of the B-C convex hull. By inspecting the electronic density of states as well as the elastic moduli, we find that the alternative models of boron carbide can provide a reasonably good description for electronic and elastic properties of the material in comparison with the experiments, highlighting the importance of considering B-12(CBCB) and B-12(B-4), together with the previously proposed B11Cp(CBC) and B-12(CBC), as the crucial ingredients for modeling boron carbide with compositions throughout the single-phase region.
We use the first-principles approach to clarify the thermodynamic stability as a function of pressure and temperature of three different alpha-rhombohedral-boron-like boron subnitrides, with the compositions of B6N, B13N2, and B38N6, proposed in the literature. We find that, out of these subnitrides with the structural units of B-12(N-N), B-12(NBN), and [B-12(N-N)](0.33)[B-12(NBN)](0.67), respectively, only B38N6, represented by [B-12(N-N)](0.33)[B-12(NBN)](0.67), is thermodynamically stable. Beyond a pressure of about 7.5 GPa depending on the temperature, also B38N6 becomes unstable, and decomposes into cubic boron nitride and a-tetragonalboron- like boron subnitride B50N2. The thermodynamic stability of boron subnitrides and relevant competing phases is determined by the Gibbs free energy, in which the contributions from the lattice vibrations and the configurational disorder are obtained within the quasiharmonic and the mean-field approximations, respectively. We calculate lattice parameters, elastic constants, phonon and electronic density of states, and demonstrate that [B-12(N-N)](0.33)[B-12(NBN)](0.67) is bothmechanically and dynamically stable, and is an electrical semiconductor. The simulated x-ray powder-diffraction pattern as well as the calculated lattice parameters of [B-12(N-N)](0.33)[B-12(NBN)](0.67) are found to be in good agreement with those of the experimentally synthesized boron subnitrides reported in the literature, verifying that B38N6 is the stable composition of a-rhombohedral-boron-like boron subnitride.
Due to a large discrepancy between theory and experiment, the electronic character of crystalline boron carbide B13C2 has been a controversial topic in the field of icosahedral boron-rich solids. We demonstrate that this discrepancy is removed when configurational disorder is accurately considered in the theoretical calculations. We find that while the ordered ground state B13C2 is metallic, the configurationally disordered B13C2, modeled with a superatom-special quasirandom structure method, goes through a metal to nonmetal transition as the degree of disorder is increased with increasing temperature. Specifically, one of the chain-end carbon atoms in the CBC chains substitutes a neighboring equatorial boron atom in a B-12 icosahedron bonded to it, giving rise to a B11Ce(BBC) unit. The atomic configuration of the substitutionally disordered B13C2 thus tends to be dominated by a mixture between B-12(CBC) and B11Ce(BBC). Due to splitting of valence states in B11Ce(BBC), the electron deficiency in B-12(CBC) is gradually compensated.
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.
The elastic properties of alloys between boron suboxide (B_{6}O) and boron carbide (B_{13}C_{2}), denoted by (B_{6}O)_{1−x}(B_{13}C_{2})_{x}, as well as boron carbide with variable carbon content, ranging from B_{13}C_{2} to B_{4}C are calculated from first-principles. Furthermore, the mixing thermodynamics of (B_{6}O)_{1−x}(B_{13}C_{2})x is studied. A superatom-special quasirandom structure approach is used for modeling different atomic configurations, in which effects of configurational disorder between the carbide and suboxide structural units, as well as between boron and carbon atoms within the units, are taken into account. Elastic properties calculations demonstrate that configurational disorder in B_{13}C_{2}, where a part of the C atoms in the CBC chains substitute for B atoms in the B12 icosahedra, drastically increase the Young’s and shear modulus, as compared to an atomically ordered state, B_{12}(CBC). These calculated elastic moduli of the disordered state are in excellent agreement with experiments. Configurational disorder between boron and carbon can also explain the experimentally observed almost constant elastic moduli of boron carbide as the carbon content is changed from B_{4}C to B_{13}C_{2}. The elastic moduli of the (B_{6}O)_{1−x}(B_{13}C_{2})_{x} system are also practically unchanged with composition if boron-carbon disorder is taken into account. By investigating the mixing thermodynamics of the alloys, in which the Gibbs free energy is determined within the mean-field approximation for the configurational entropy, we outline the pseudo-binary phase diagram of (B_{6}O)_{1−x}(B_{13}C_{2})_{x}. The phase diagram reveals the existence of a miscibility gap at all temperatures up to the melting point. Also, the coexistence of B_{6}O-rich as well as ordered or disordered B_{13}C_{2}-rich domains in the material prepared through equilibrium routes is predicted.
Compared to other body-centered cubic (bcc) transition metals, Nb has been the subject of fewer compression studies and there are still aspects of its phase diagram which are unclear. Here, we report a combined theoretical and experimental study of Nb under high pressure and temperature. We present the results of static laser-heated diamond anvil cell experiments up to 120 GPa using synchrotron-based fast x-ray diffraction combined with ab initio quantum molecular dynamics simulations. The melting curve of Nb is determined and evidence for a solid-solid phase transformation in Nb with increasing temperature is found. The high-temperature phase of Nb is orthorhombic Pnma. The bcc-Pnma transition is clearly seen in the experimental data on the Nb principal Hugoniot. The bcc-Pnma coexistence observed in our experiments is explained. Agreement between the measured and calculated melting curves is very good except at 40-60 GPa where three experimental points lie below the theoretical melting curve by 250 K (or 7%); a possible explanation is given. The study of materials under extreme conditions can reveal interesting physics in diverse areas such as condensed matter and geophysics. Here, the authors investigate experimentally and theoretically the high pressure-high temperature phase diagram of niobium revealing a previously unobserved phase transition from body-centered cubic to orthorhombic phase.
The large class of layered ceramics encompasses both van der Waals (vdW) and non-vdW solids. While intercalation of noble metals in vdW solids is known, formation of compounds by incorporation of noble-metal layers in non-vdW layered solids is largely unexplored. Here, we show formation of Ti3AuC2 and Ti3Au2C2 phases with up to 31% lattice swelling by a substitutional solid-state reaction of Au into Ti3SiC2 single-crystal thin films with simultaneous out-diffusion of Si. Ti3IrC2 is subsequently produced by a substitution reaction of Ir for Au in Ti3Au2C2. These phases form Ohmic electrical contacts to SiC and remain stable after 1,000 h of ageing at 600 degrees C in air. The present results, by combined analytical electron microscopy and ab initio calculations, open avenues for processing of noble-metal-containing layered ceramics that have not been synthesized from elemental sources, along with tunable properties such as stable electrical contacts for high-temperature power electronics or gas sensors.
The structural and vibrational properties of ammonium borohydride, NH4BH4, have been examined by first-principles density functional theory (DFT) calculations and inelastic neutron scattering (INS). The H disordered crystal structure of NH4BH4 is composed of the tetrahedral complex ions NH4+ and BH4-, which are arranged as in the fcc NaCl structure and linked by intermolecular dihydrogen bonding. Upon cooling, the INS spectra revealed a structural transition between 45 and 40 K. The reversible transition occurs upon heating between 46 and 49 K. In the low-temperature form reorientational dynamics are frozen. The libration modes for BH4- and NH4+ are near 300 and 200 cm(-1), respectively. Upon entering the fcc high-temperature form, NH4+ ions attain fast reorientational dynamics, as indicated in the disappearance of the NH4+ libration band, whereas BH4- ions become significantly mobile only at temperatures above 100 K. The vibrational behavior of BH4- ions in NH4BH4 compares well to the heavier alkali metal borohydrides, NaBH4-CsBH4. DFT calculations revealed a nondirectional nature of the dihydrogen bonding in NH4BH4 with only weak tendency for long-range order. Different rotational configurations of complex ions appear quasi-degenerate, which is reminiscent of glasses.
Lithium carbide, Li2C2, is a fascinating material that combines strong covalent and weak ionic bonding resulting in a wide range of unusual properties. The mechanism of its phase transition from the ground-state orthorhombic (Immm) to the high-temperature cubic (Fm (3) over barm) crystal structure is not well understood and here we elucidate it with help of first-principles calculations. We show that stabilization of the cubic phase is a result of a temperature-induced disorientation of the C-C dumbbells and their further thermal rotations. Due to these rotations rather large deviatoric stress, which is associated with the dumbbell alignment along one of the crystallographic axes, averages out making the cubic structure mechanically stable. At high temperature we observe a type-II superionic transition to a state of high Li self-diffusion involving collective ionic motion mediated by the formation of Frenkel pairs.
Layered zinc hydroxides (LZHs) with the general formula (Zn2+)(x)(OH-)(2x-my ),(A(m-))(y)center dot nH(2)O (A(m-) = Cl- , NO3- , ac(-) , SO42-, etc) are considered as useful precursors for the fabrication of functional ZnO nanostructures. Here, we report the synthesis and structure characterization of the hitherto unknown "binary" representative of the LZH compound family, Zn-5(OH)(10)center dot 2H(2)O, with A(m-) = OH- , x = 5, y = 2, and n = 2. Zn-5(OH)(10)center dot 2H(2)O was afforded quantitatively by pressurizing mixtures of epsilon-Zn(OH)(2) (wulfingite) and water to 1-2 GPa and applying slightly elevated temperatures, 100-200 degrees C. The monoclinic crystal structure was characterized from powder X-ray diffraction data (space group C2/c, a = 15.342(7) angstrom, b = 6.244(6) angstrom, c = 10.989(7) angstrom, beta = 100.86(1)degrees). It features neutral zinc hydroxide layers, composed of octahedrally and tetrahedrally coordinated Zn ions with a 3:2 ratio, in which H2O is intercalated. The interlayer d(200) distance is 7.53 angstrom. The H-bond structure of Zn-5(OH)(10)center dot 2H(2)O was analyzed by a combination of infrared/Raman spectroscopy, computational modeling, and neutron powder diffraction. Interlayer H2O molecules are strongly H-bonded to five surrounding OH groups and appear orientationally disordered. The decomposition of Zn-5(OH)(10)center dot 2H(2)O, which occurs thermally between 70 and 100 degrees C, was followed in an in situ transmission electron microscopy study and ex situ annealing experiments. It yields initially 5-15 nm sized hexagonal w-ZnO crystals, which, depending on the conditions, may intergrow to several hundred nm-large two-dimensional, flakelike crystals within the boundary of original Zn-5(OH)(10)center dot 2H(2)O particles.
An accurate and easily extendable method to deal with lattice dynamics of solids is offered. It is based on first-principles molecular dynamics simulations and provides a consistent way to extract the best possible harmonic-or higher order-potential energy surface at finite temperatures. It is designed to work even for strongly anharmonic systems where the traditional quasiharmonic approximation fails. The accuracy and convergence of the method are controlled in a straightforward way. Excellent agreement of the calculated phonon dispersion relations at finite temperature with experimental results for bcc Li and bcc Zr is demonstrated.
Charge redistribution at low oxygen vacancy concentrations in ceria have been studied in the framework of the density functional theory. We propose a model to approach the dilute limit using the results of supercell calculations. It allows one to reproduce the characteristic experimentally observed behavior of composition versus oxygen pressure dependency. We show that in the dilute limit the charge redistribution is likely to be driven by a mechanism different from the one involving electron localization on cerium atoms. We demonstrate that it can involve charge localization on light element impurities.
Effect of volume change on the ionic conductivity in ceria has been studied in the framework of the density functional theory. We show that properly controlling external conditions one can treat the lattice constant of ceria as an adjustable parameter and change the topology of the energy landscape for the oxygen ion diffusion. We reveal the existence of the narrow range of lattice parameters, which optimize the ionic conductivity in ceria.
We have developed a thorough and accurate method of determining anharmonic free energies. The technique is based in ab initio molecular dynamics and map a model Hamiltonian to the fully anharmonic system. We can accurately deal with low-symmetry systems, such as random alloys. The formalism and the numerics are described in great detail. A number of practical examples are given, and favourable results are presented, both with respect to experiment and established techniques.
We have developed a thorough and accurate method of determining anharmonic free energies, the temperature dependent effective potential technique (TDEP). It is based on ab initio molecular dynamics followed by a mapping onto a model Hamiltonian that describes the lattice dynamics. The formalism and the numerical aspects of the technique are described in detail. A number of practical examples are given, and results are presented, which confirm the usefulness of TDEP within ab initio and classical molecular dynamics frameworks. In particular, we examine from first principles the behavior of force constants upon the dynamical stabilization of the body centered phase of Zr, and show that they become more localized. We also calculate the phase diagram for ^{4}He modeled with the Aziz et al. potential and obtain results which are in favorable agreement both with respect to experiment and established techniques.
The electronic structure of cerium oxide is investigated here using a combination of ab initio one-electron theory and elements from many-body physics, with emphasis on the nature of the 4f electron shell of cerium ions. We propose to use the hybridization function as a convenient measure for the degree of localization of the 4f shell of this material, and observe that changing the oxidation state is related to distinct changes in the hybridization between the 4f shell and ligand states. The theory reveals that CeO2 has essentially itinerant 4f states, and that in the least oxidized form of ceria, Ce2O3, the 4f states are almost (but not fully) localized. This conclusion is supported by additional calculations based on a combination of density functional theory and dynamical mean field theory. Most importantly, our model points to the fact that diffusion of oxygen vacancies in cerium oxide may be seen as polaron hopping, involving a correlated 4f electron cloud, which is located primarily on Ce ions of several atomic shells surrounding the vacancy.