599 research outputs found

    Anomalies in non-stoichiometric uranium dioxide induced by pseudo-phase transition of point defects

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    A uniform distribution of point defects in an otherwise perfect crystallographic structure usually describes a unique pseudo phase of that state of a non-stoichiometric material. With off-stoichiometric uranium dioxide as a prototype, we show that analogous to a conventional phase transition, these pseudo phases also will transform from one state into another via changing the predominant defect species when external conditions of pressure, temperature, or chemical composition are varied. This exotic transition is numerically observed along shock Hugoniots and isothermal compression curves in UO2 with first-principles calculations. At low temperatures, it leads to anomalies (or quasi-discontinuities) in thermodynamic properties and electronic structures. In particular, the anomaly is pronounced in both shock temperature and the specific heat at constant pressure. With increasing of the temperature, however, it transforms gradually to a smooth cross-over, and becomes less discernible. The underlying physical mechanism and characteristics of this type of transition are encoded in the Gibbs free energy, and are elucidated clearly by analyzing the correlation with the variation of defect populations as a function of pressure and temperature. The opportunities and challenges for a possible experimental observation of this phase change are also discussed.Comment: 11 pages, 5 figure

    Silica grain catalysis of methanol formation

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    The specific catalytic effect of a silica grain on the formation of methanol via the sequential addition of H atoms to CO adsorbed on the surface is investigated. A negatively charged defect on a siliceous edingtonite surface is found to reduce the gas phase barriers for the H + COads and H + H2C=O-ads reactions by 770 and 399 K, respectively, when compared to the same reactions in the gas phase. The catalytic effect of negatively charged surface sites could also be applicable to the hydrogenation of other adsorbed unsaturated species. However, the activation energies on the surface defect are still too large (1150 and 2230 K) for CH3OH to form efficiently at 10-20 K in the interstellar medium via a classical mechanism. It is therefore suggested that quantum mechanical tunnelling through the activation barrier is required for these hydrogen addition reactions to proceed at such temperatures. The calculations show that because the adsorption energies of CO and H2C=O on the negatively charged defect are substantial, CH3OH may form efficiently during the warm-up period in star-forming regions

    A comparative analysis of the mechanisms of ammonia synthesis on various catalysts using density functional theory

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    In this review, we present the recent progress in ammonia synthesis research using density functional theory (DFT) calculations on various industrial catalysts, metal nitrides and nano-cluster-supported catalysts. The mechanism of ammonia synthesis on the industrial Fe catalyst is generally accepted to be a dissociative mechanism. We have recently found, using DFT techniques, that on Co₃Mo₃N (111) surfaces, an associative mechanism in the synthesis of ammonia can offer a new low-energy pathway that was previously unknown. In particular, we have shown that metal nitrides that are also known to have high activity for ammonia synthesis can readily form nitrogen vacancies which can activate dinitrogen, thereby promoting the associative mechanism. These fundamental studies suggest that a promising route to the discovery of low-temperature ammonia synthesis catalysts will be to identify systems that proceed via the associative mechanism, which is closer to the nitrogen-fixation mechanism occurring in nitrogenases

    Modelling metal centres, acid sites and reaction mechanisms in microporous catalysts

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    We discuss the role of QM/MM (embedded cluster) computational techniques in catalytic science, in particular their application to microporous catalysis. We describe the methodologies employed and illustrate their utility by briefly summarising work on metal centres in zeolites. We then report a detailed investigation into the behaviour of methanol at acidic sites in zeolites H-ZSM-5 and H-Y in the context of the methanol-to-hydrocarbons/olefins process. Studying key initial steps of the reaction (the adsorption and subsequent methoxylation), we probe the effect of framework topology and Brønsted acid site location on the energetics of these initial processes. We find that although methoxylation is endothermic with respect to the adsorbed system (by 17–56 kJ mol−1 depending on the location), there are intriguing correlations between the adsorption/reaction energies and the geometries of the adsorbed species, of particular significance being the coordination of methyl hydrogens. These observations emphasise the importance of adsorbate coordination with the framework in zeolite catalysed conversions, and how this may vary with framework topology and site location, particularly suited to investigation by QM/MM technique

    N incorporation and associated localized vibrational modes in GaSb

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    We present results of electronic structure calculations on the N-related localized vibrational modes in the dilute nitride alloy GaSb1−xNx. By calculating the formation energies of various possible N incorporation modes in the alloy, we determine the most favorable N configurations, and we calculate their vibrational mode frequencies using density functional theory under the generalized gradient approximation to electron exchange and correlation, including the effects of the relativistic spin-orbit interactions. For a single N impurity, we find substitution on an Sb site, NSb, to be most favorable, and for a two-N-atom complex, we find the N-N split interstitial on an Sb site to be most favorable. For these defects, as well as, for comparison, defects comprising two N atoms on neighboring Sb sites and a N-Sb split interstitial on an Sb site, we find well-localized vibration modes (LVMs), which should be experimentally observable. The frequency of the triply degenerate LVM associated with NSb is determined to be 427.6 cm−1. Our results serve as a guide to future experimental studies to elucidate the incorporation of small concentrations of N in GaSb, which is known to lead to a reduction of the band gap and opens the possibility of using the material for long-wavelength applications

    Bulk and surface simulation studies of La1-xCax MnO3

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    The structural properties of La1-xCaxMnO3 are investigated by employing bulk and surface simulation\ud techniques. The potential parameters reproduce the crystal structures of both end compositions, giving\ud good agreement with experimental data. The calculated variation of the lattice parameters with Ca\ud concentration also agrees with experimental values. Our calculations predict the formation of a solid\ud solution and that, at very low temperatures and near x ) 1/2, the cations preferentially order on both A\ud and B sites. The driving mechanism for cation ordering arises from both the coulomb and ion-size terms,\ud with the relative proportions depending on composition. However, at temperatures where high-temperature\ud synthesis normally occurs, the ordering of the cations is random. Surface energies are calculated for\ud (010) and (110) surfaces for the end compositions: in LaMnO3, Mn-terminated layers are more stable,\ud whereas Ca-terminated layers are found to be more stable for the CaMnO3 system. It is proposed that the\ud surface structure of intermediate compositions is controlled by a subtle interplay between the different\ud cation ionic strengths and their respective concentrations

    Efficient and accurate approach to modeling the microstructure and defect properties of LaCoO3

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    Complex perovskite oxides are promising materials for cathode layers in solid oxide fuel cells. Such materials have intricate electronic, magnetic, and crystalline structures that prove challenging to model accurately. We analyze a wide range of standard density functional theory approaches to modeling a highly promising system, the perovskite LaCoO3, focusing on optimizing the Hubbard U parameter to treat the self-interaction of the B-site cation's d states, in order to determine the most appropriate method to study defect formation and the effect of spin on local structure. By calculating structural and electronic properties for different magnetic states we determine that U=4 eV for Co in LaCoO3 agrees best with available experiments. We demonstrate that the generalized gradient approximation (PBEsol+U) is most appropriate for studying structure versus spin state, while the local density approximation (LDA+U) is most appropriate for determining accurate energetics for defect properties