The Structure of Liquid and Amorphous Hafnia

LC Gallington and Y Ghadar and LB Skinner and JKR Weber and SV Ushakov and A Navrotsky and A Vazquez-Mayagoitia and JC Neuefeind and M Stan and JJ Low and CJ Benmore, MATERIALS, 10, 1290 (2017).

DOI: 10.3390/ma10111290

Understanding the atomic structure of amorphous solids is important in predicting and tuning their macroscopic behavior. Here, we use a combination of high-energy X-ray diffraction, neutron diffraction, and molecular dynamics simulations to benchmark the atomic interactions in the high temperature stable liquid and low-density amorphous solid states of hafnia. The diffraction results reveal an average Hf-O coordination number of similar to 7 exists in both the liquid and amorphous nanoparticle forms studied. The measured pair distribution functions are compared to those generated from several simulation models in the literature. We have also performed ab initio and classical molecular dynamics simulations that show density has a strong effect on the polyhedral connectivity. The liquid shows a broad distribution of Hf-Hf interactions, while the formation of low-density amorphous nanoclusters can reproduce the sharp split peak in the Hf-Hf partial pair distribution function observed in experiment. The agglomeration of amorphous nanoparticles condensed from the gas phase is associated with the formation of both edge-sharing and corner-sharing HfO6,7 polyhedra resembling that observed in the monoclinic phase.

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