Nitrogen vacancy, self-interstitial diffusion, and Frenkel-pair formation/dissociation in B1 TiN studied by ab initio and classical molecular dynamics with optimized potentials

DG Sangiovanni and B Alling and P Steneteg and L Hultman and IA Abrikosov, PHYSICAL REVIEW B, 91, 054301 (2015).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.91.054301

We use ab initio and classical molecular dynamics (AIMD and CMD) based on the modified embedded-atom method (MEAM) potential to simulate diffusion of N vacancy and N self-interstitial point defects in B1 TiN. TiN MEAM parameters are optimized to obtain CMD nitrogen point-defect jump rates in agreement with AIMD predictions, as well as an excellent description of TiNx (similar to 0.7 < x <= 1) elastic, thermal, and structural properties. We determine N dilute-point-defect diffusion pathways, activation energies, attempt frequencies, and diffusion coefficients as a function of temperature. In addition, the MD simulations presented in this paper reveal an unanticipated atomistic process, which controls the spontaneous formation of N self- interstitial/N vacancy (N-I/N-V) pairs (Frenkel pairs), in defect-free TiN. This entails that the N lattice atom leaves its bulk position and bonds to a neighboring N lattice atom. In most cases, Frenkel-pair N-I and N-V recombine within a fraction of ns; similar to 50% of these processes result in the exchange of two nitrogen lattice atoms (N-N-Exc). Occasionally, however, Frenkel-pair N-interstitial atoms permanently escape from the anion vacancy site, thus producing unpaired N-I and N-V point defects.

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