Origin of negative thermal expansion and pressure-induced amorphization in zirconium tungstate from a machine-learning potential

R He and HY Wu and Y Lu and ZC Zhong, PHYSICAL REVIEW B, 106 (2022).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.106.174101

Understanding various macroscopic pressure-volume-temperature properties of materials on the atomistic level has always been an ambition for physicists and material scientists. Particularly, some materials such as zirconium tungstate (ZrW2O8), exhibit multiple exotic properties including negative thermal expansion (NTE) and pressure-induced amorphization (PIA). Here, using machine-learning based deep potential, we trace both of the phenomena in ZrW2O8 back to a common atomistic origin, where the nonbridging O atoms play a critical role. We demonstrate that the nonbridging O atoms confer great flexibility to vibration of polyhedra, and kinetically drive volume shrinking on heating, or NTE. In addition, beyond a certain critical pressure, we find that the migration of nonbridging O atoms leads to additional bond formation that lowers the potential energy, suggesting that the PIA is a potential-driven first-order phase transition. Most importantly, we identify a second critical pressure beyond which the amorphous phase of ZrW2O8 undergoes a "hidden" phase transition from a reversible phase to an irreversible one.

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