Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Hydrogen Diffusion in Aluminum
XW Zhou and F El Gabaly and V Stavila and MD Allendorf, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C, 120, 7500-7509 (2016).
Hydrogen diffusion impacts the performance of solid-state hydrogen storage materials and contributes to the embrittlement of structural materials under hydrogen-containing environments. In atomistic simulations, the diffusion energy barriers are usually calculated using molecular statics simulations where a nudged elastic band method is used to constrain a path connecting the two end points of an atomic jump. This approach requires prior knowledge of the "end points". For alloy and defective systems, the number of possible atomic jumps with respect to local atomic configurations is tremendous. Even when these jumps can be exhaustively studied, it is still unclear how they can be combined to give an overall diffusion behavior seen in experiments. Here we describe the use of molecular dynamics simulations to determine the overall diffusion energy barrier from the Arrhenius equation. This method does not require information about atomic jumps, and it has additional advantages, such as the ability to incorporate finite temperature effects and to determine the pre-exponential factor. As a test case for a generic method, we focus on hydrogen diffusion in bulk aluminum. We find that the challenge of this method is the statistical variation of the results. However, highly converged energy barriers can be achieved by an appropriate set of temperatures, output time intervals (for tracking hydrogen positions), and a long total simulation time. Our results help elucidate the inconsistencies of the experimental diffusion data published in the literature. The robust approach developed here may also open up future molecular dynamics simulations to rapidly study diffusion properties of complex material systems in multidimensional spaces involving composition and defects.
Return to Publications page