Tuesday, March 26, 2013

1303.5898 (Mark Wilson et al.)

Modeling vitreous silica bilayers    [PDF]

Mark Wilson, Avishek Kumar, David Sherrington, M. F. Thorpe
We computer model a free-standing vitreous silica bilayer which has recently been synthesized and characterized experimentally in landmark work. Here we model the bilayer using a computer assembly procedure that starts from a single layer of amorphous graphene, generated using a bond switching algorithm from an initially crystalline graphene structure. Next each bond is decorated with an oxygen atom and the carbon atoms are relabeled as silicon. This monolayer can be now thought of as a two dimensional network of corner sharing triangles. Next each triangle is made into a tetrahedron, by raising the silicon atom above each triangle and adding an additional singly coordinated oxygen atom at the apex. The final step is to mirror reflect this layer to form a second layer and then attach the two layers together to form the bilayer. We show that this vitreous silica bilayer has the additional macroscopic degrees of freedom to easily form a network of identical corner sharing tetrahedra if there is a symmetry plane through the center of the bilayer going through the layer of oxygen ions that join the upper and lower layers. This has the consequence that the upper rings lie exactly above the lower rings, which are tilted in general. The assumption of a network of perfect corner sharing tetrahedra leads to a range of possible densities that we have previously characterized in three dimensional zeolites as a flexibility window. Finally, using a realistic potential, we have relaxed the bilayer to determine the density, and other structural characteristics such as the Si-Si pair distribution functions and the Si-O-Si bond angle distribution, which are compared to the experimental results obtained by direct imaging.
View original: http://arxiv.org/abs/1303.5898

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