Predicting alloy vibrational mode properties using lattice dynamics calculations, molecular dynamics simulations, and the virtual crystal approximation

JM Larkin and AJH McGaughey, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 114, 023507 (2013).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4812737

The virtual crystal (VC) approximation for mass disorder is evaluated by examining two model alloy systems: Lennard-Jones argon and Stillinger- Weber silicon. In both material systems, the perfect crystal is alloyed with a heavier mass species up to equal concentration. The analysis is performed using molecular dynamics simulations and lattice dynamics calculations. Mode frequencies and lifetimes are first calculated by treating the disorder explicitly and under the VC approximation, with differences found in the high-concentration alloys at high frequencies. Notably, the lifetimes of high-frequency modes are underpredicted using the VC approximation, a result we attribute to the neglect of higher- order terms in the model used to include point-defect scattering. The mode properties are then used to predict thermal conductivity under the VC approximation. For the Lennard-Jones alloys, where high-frequency modes make a significant contribution to thermal conductivity, the high- frequency lifetime underprediction leads to an underprediction of thermal conductivity compared to predictions from the Green-Kubo method, where no assumptions about the thermal transport are required. Based on observations of a minimum mode diffusivity, we propose a correction that brings the VC approximation thermal conductivities into better agreement with the Green-Kubo values. For the Stillinger-Weber alloys, where the thermal conductivity is dominated by low-frequency modes, the high- frequency lifetime underprediction does not affect the thermal conductivity prediction and reasonable agreement is found with the Green-Kubo values. (C) 2013 AIP Publishing LLC.

Return to Publications page