First-principles electronic structure in second-moment calculation of mode frequencies: Failure of quasiharmonic approximation in silicon

D Dickel and MS Daw, PHYSICAL REVIEW B, 100, 214314 (2019).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.100.214314

Using first-principles electronic structure calculations (local density approximation), we present second-moment calculations of the temperature dependence of the vibrational normal mode frequencies in Si up to 1500 K . The method is based on simple ensemble averages of displacements and forces and is easy to implement. These efficient calculations incorporate all interactions nonperturbatively, implicitly including all high order force constants, in contrast to typical perturbative approaches. Also in this work, we propose and apply to our classical calculations an estimated quantum correction that could be used for classical approaches other than the moments method. We compare our results to available experiments, including recent inelastic neutron scattering data and conclude that the second-moment gives the frequency shift to within a factor of 2 in contrast to quasiharmonic approaches that fail by an order of magnitude to predict the anharmonic shift. Noting the relative simplicity and speed of the calculations, we conclude that the second-moment approximation reasonably accounts for anharmonicity in a system that has been very closely studied experimentally and may reliably be applied in an exploratory way to more complex systems. We suggest that further improvement on the results could be obtained by incorporating the fourth moment, which can be implemented with little additional cost.

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