Atomistic Modeling of Amorphous Silicon Carbide: An Approximate First-Principles Study In Constrained Solution Space

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Physics and Astronomy


Localized basis ab initio molecular dynamics simulation within the density functional framework has been used to generate realistic configurations of amorphous silicon carbide (a-SiC). Our approach consists of constructing a set of smart initial configurations that conform to essential geometrical and structural aspects of the materials obtained from experimental data, which is subsequently driven via a first-principles force field to obtain the best solution in a reduced solution space. A combination of a priori information (primarily structural and topological) along with the ab initio optimization of the total energy makes it possible to model a large system size (1000 atoms) without compromising the quantum mechanical accuracy of the force field to describe the complex bonding chemistry of Si and C. The structural, electronic and vibrational properties of the models have been studied and compared to existing theoretical models and available data from experiments. We demonstrate that the approach is capable of producing large, realistic configurations of a-SiC from first-principles simulation that display its excellent structural and electronic properties. Our study reveals the presence of predominant short range order in the material originating from heteronuclear Si-C bonds with a coordination defect concentration as small as 5% and a chemical disorder parameter of about 8%.

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Journal of Physics-Condensed Matter