Hydrogen reverses the clustering tendency of carbon in amorphous silicon oxycarbide
HP Ding and MJ Demkowicz, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 5, 13051 (2015).
Amorphous silicon oxycarbide (SiOC) is of great technological interest. However, its atomic-level structure is not well understood. Using density functional theory calculations, we show that the clustering tendency of C atoms in SiOC is extremely sensitive to hydrogen (H): without H, the C-C interaction is attractive, leading to enrichment of aggregated SiC4 tetrahedral units; with hydrogen, the C-C interaction is repulsive, leading to enrichment of randomly distributed SiCO3 tetrahedral units. Our results suggest that conflicting experimental characterizations of C distributions may be due to differing amounts of H present in the samples investigated. Our work also opens a path for tailoring the properties of SiOC by using the total H content to control the C distribution.
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