Insights from molecular dynamics into the chemistry-structure relationships of calcium aluminosilicate glasses

ML Liu and S Panda and P Suraneni and LR Pestana, JOURNAL OF NON- CRYSTALLINE SOLIDS, 618, 122545 (2023).

DOI: 10.1016/j.jnoncrysol.2023.122545

Calcium aluminosilicate (CAS) glasses are ubiquitous in nature and play an important role in diverse technological applications ranging from structural glasses to sustainable cementitious materials. Understanding the relationship between the chemical composition and the structure of CAS glasses is an essential step towards optimizing their properties for different uses in the future. Here, we use extensive molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to characterize the multiscale structure of CAS glasses over the full compositional range. Analysis of the short and medium range order of the glasses reveals that Lowenstein's rule is widely violated, that silica is more susceptible than alumina to the depolymerizing effects of calcium, and that high-silica glasses favor calcium in lower oxygen coordination states, while the opposite is true for high-alumina ones. We also find the presence of highly coordinated aluminum and tricluster oxygens in high-alumina glasses, which form as a charge compensation mechanism. We find that current theoretical models used to predict oxygen species, oxygen bridge types, or tetrahedral coordination, while overall qualitatively reasonable, simplify the complex interplay between the different oxides which results in inaccurate predictions, particularly for glasses in intermediate compositional regions. Our analysis of the cluster, chain, and ring topological structures in the aluminosilicate network reveals a sharp transition from a connected to a disconnected graph which depends not only on the calcium content of the glass, but also on the ratio of silica to alumina. Glasses in the compositional region corresponding to such transition display the largest ring and longest chain structures of any glass studied.

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