Ab initio calculations and empirical potential assessments of the energy and structure of symmetric tilt grain boundaries in tungsten

XR Zheng and XS Kong and XL Li and XY Li and Y Zhang and YC Xu and XB Wu and CS Liu, COMPUTATIONAL MATERIALS SCIENCE, 229, 112446 (2023).

DOI: 10.1016/j.commatsci.2023.112446

Molecular statics/dynamics (MS/MD) based on empirical interatomic potentials (IAPs) is an effective means for conducting grain boundary (GB) related studies. The accuracy of these MS/MD simulations, however, can be greatly affected by the IAP used. Unfortunately, the large discrepancies between the ab-initio values make it difficult to evaluate, improve and further develop IAPs. Motivated by this issue, in the present work we perform a systematic investigation of (100) and (110) symmetric tilt GBs in tungsten (W) via atomistic simulations, including the stable structure, GB energy, work of separation, excess volume, and vacancy formation energy. We here use a two-step relaxation process, initially obtaining the candidate structures from MS and then performing DFT validation of these structures to determine the ground state structure, where six empirical IAPs and four exchange-correlation (xc) functionals are used. And the step-like feature is revealed that can be used to reduce the cost of time-consuming optimization processes. Taking the results yielded by PBEsol xc-functional as a benchmark, it is shown that for the same xc-functional, the relative errors of GB energy and work of separation are almost identical, independent of the GB character. The performance of six typical empirical IAPs considered for W is also evaluated by comparing it with the DFT data. The quantities chosen for the comparison include the structure and energetic properties of GBs, as mentioned before. We demonstrate that these empirical IAPs tend to better describe only part of the properties of GBs; for example, some IAPs can predict the energetic properties well, while others can better describe the structure. This suggests that a fully reliable description of GBs remains an elusive objective, requiring further efforts in the development and optimization of the IAP.

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