Hydrogen reverses the clustering tendency of carbon in amorphous silicon oxycarbide

HP Ding and MJ Demkowicz, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 5, 13051 (2015).

DOI: 10.1038/srep13051

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.

Return to Publications page