Quantum mechanical calculations based on first-principles (lat. ab initio) methods have over the past decades proved very successful for the study of many materials properties. Based solely on the fundamental constants of physics, the strength of these methods lies not only in describing existing materials, but also in predicting completely new ones. This thesis contains work both related to the quest for improved materials, and to the development of new methods.
Equilibrium ab initio molecular dynamics methods are powerful for simulating diffusion in solids but are accompanied with high computational costs. This is related to the inherent slowness of the diffusion process in solids. To tackle this problem, we implement the color-diffusion algorithm into the Vienna ab initio simulation package to perform non-equilibrium ab initio molecular dynamics (NEMD) simulations. Ion diffusion in ceria doped with Gd and Sm is studied, and the calculated conductivities is found to agree well with experiment. However, although the NEMD method significantly lowers the computational cost, statistical quality in the calculated conductivity still comes expensive. Knowing the error resulting from limited statistics is therefore important.
We derive an analytical expression for the error in calculated ion conductivity, which is verified numerically using the Kinetic Monte Carlo (KMC) method. Being developed particularly for the simulation of slow events, the great advantage of the KMC method over the NEMD method is that it is much less computationally expensive. This allows for long simulation times and large system sizes. The effect of dopant type and dopant distribution on the oxygen ion diffusivity is investigated with KMC simulations of rare-earth doped ceria. The full set of diffusion barriers in the simulation cell is calculated from first-principles within a density functional theory (DFT) framework.
This Thesis also includes a study of processes involving water on a rutile TiO2(110) surface. The basic processes are: diffusion, dissociation, recombination, and clustering of water molecules. The barriers for these processes are calculated with DFT employing different exchange-correlation (XC) functionals. Using the barriers calculated from two XC functionals, we perform KMC simulations and find that the choice of XC functional radically alters the dynamics of the simulated water-titania system.
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016. , 68 p.