Development of a ReaxFF Potential for Carbon Condensed Phases and Its Application to the Thermal Fragmentation of a Large Fullerene

SG Srinivasan and ACT van Duin and P Ganesh, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY A, 119, 571-580 (2015).

DOI: 10.1021/jp510274e

In this article, we report the development of a ReaxFF reactive potential that can accurately describe the chemistry and dynamics of carbon condensed phases. Density functional theory (DFT)-based calculations were performed to obtain the equation of state for graphite and diamond and the formation energies of defects in graphene and amorphous phases from fullerenes. The DFT data were used to reparametrize ReaxFF(CHO), resulting in a new potential called Reax(FFC-2013). ReaxFF(C-2013) accurately predicts the atomization energy of graphite and closely reproduces the DFT-based energy difference between graphite and diamond, and the barrier for transition from graphite to diamond. ReaxFF(C-2013) also accurately predicts the DFT-based energy barrier for Stone-Wales transformation in a C-60(Ih) fullerene through the concerted rotation of a C-2 unit. Later, MD simulations of a C-180 fullerene using ReaxFF(C-2013) suggested that the thermal fragmentation of these giant fullerenes is an exponential function of time. An Arrhenius-type equation was fit to the decay rate, giving an activation energy of 7.66 eV for the loss of carbon atoms from the fullerene. Although the decay of the molecule occurs primarily via the loss of C-2 units, we observed that, with an increase in temperature, the probability of loss of larger fragments increases. The ReaxFF(C-2013) potential developed in this work, and the results obtained on fullerene fragmentation, provide an important step toward the full computational chemical modeling of coal pyrolysis, soot incandescence, high temperature erosion of graphitic rocket nozzles, and ablation of carbon-based spacecraft materials during atmospheric reentry.

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