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Development of Density-Functional Tight-Binding Parameters for the Molecular Dynamics Simulation of Zirconia, Yttria, and Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia

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journal contribution
posted on 31.07.2021, 17:13 by Aulia Sukma Hutama, Lala Adetia Marlina, Chien-Pin Chou, Stephan Irle, Thomas S. Hofer
In this work, a set of density-functional tight-binding (DFTB) parameters for the Zr–Zr, Zr–O, Y–Y, Y–O, and Zr–Y interactions was developed for bulk and surface simulations of ZrO2 (zirconia), Y2O3 (yttria), and yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) materials. The parameterization lays the ground work for realistic simulations of zirconia-, yttria-, and YSZ-based electrolytes in solid oxide fuel cells and YSZ-based catalysts on long timescales and relevant size scales. The parameterization was validated for the zirconia and yttria polymorphs observed under standard conditions based on density functional theory calculations and experimental data. Additionally, we performed DFTB-based molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to compute structural and vibrational properties of these materials. The results show that the parameters can give a qualitatively correct phase ordering of zirconia, where the tetragonal phase is more stable than the cubic phase at a lower temperature. The lattice parameters are only slightly overestimated by 0.05–0.1 Å (2% error), still within the typical accuracy of first-principles methods. Additionally, the MD results confirm that zirconia and yttria phases are stable against transformations under standard conditions. The parameterization also predicts that vibrational spectra are within the range of 100–1000 cm–1 for zirconia and 100–800 cm–1 for yttria, which is in good agreement with predictions both from full quantum mechanics and a recently developed classical force field. To further demonstrate the advantage of the developed DFTB parameters in terms of computational resources, we conducted DFTB/MD simulations of the YSZ4 and YS12 models containing approximately 750 atoms.