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Ab initio prediction of crystalline phases and their electronic properties : from ambient to extreme pressures

Authors: Jingming Shi

Ref.: PhD thesis, Université Claude Bernard - Lyon 1 (2017)

Abstract: In this thesis we use global structural prediction methods (Particle Swarm Optimization and Minima Hopping Method) and high-throughput techniques to predict crystal structures of different systems under different conditions. We performed structural prediction by using the Crystal structure Analysis by Particle Swarm Optimization (CALYPSO) combined with Density Functional Theory (DFT) that made possible to unveil several stable compounds, so far unknown, on the phase diagrams of Ba-Si systerm and N-H-O system. Afterwards, we performed a high-throughput investigation on ternary compounds of composition ABX2, where A and B are elements of the periodic table up to Bi, and X is a chalcogen (O, S, Se, and Te) by using density functional theory and combining calculations of crystal prototypes with structural prediction (Minima Hopping Method). The following paragraphs summarize the content by chapter of this document. Chapter 1 is a short introduction of this thesis. Chapter 2 consists of the basic theory used in this thesis. Firstly, a short introduction of Density Function Theory (DFT) is presented. Then, we describe some approximate exchange- correlation functions that make DFT practical. Next, we introduce different structural prediction algorithms, especially Particle Swarm Optimization and Minima Hopping Method which we used in this thesis. Finally, we discuss the thermodynamic stablility criteria for a new a new structure. In Chapter 3, we first consider Ba–Si system. Using an unbiased structural search based on a particle-swarm optimization algorithm combined with DFT calculations, we investigate systematically the ground-state phase stability and structural diversity of Ba–Si binaries under high pressure. The phase diagram turns out to be quite intricate, with several compositions stabilizing/destabilizing as a function of pressure. In particular, we identify novel phases of BaSi, BaSi2, BaSi3, and BaSi5 that might be synthesizable experimentally over a wide range of pressures. Chapter 4 contains the investigation of the phases diagram of the N–H–O system. By using ab initio evolutionary structural search, we report the prediction of two novel phases of the N–H–O ternary system, namely NOH4 and HNO3 (nitric acid) at pressure up to 150 GPa. Our calculations show that the new C2/m phase of NOH4 is stable under a large range of pressure from 71 GPa to 150 GPa while the P21/m phase of HNO3 (nitric acid) is stable from 39 GPa to 150 GPa (the maximum pressure which we have studied). We also confirmed that the composition NOH5 (NH3H2O) becomes unstable for pressures above 122 GPa. It decomposes into NH3 and H2O at this pressure. Chapter 5 focuses on p-type transparent electrodes of ternary chalcogenides. We use a high-throughput approach based on DFT to find delafossite and related layered phases of composition ABX2, where A and B are elements of the periodic table, and X is a chalcogen (O, S, Se, and Te). From the 15 624 compounds studied in the trigonal delafossite prototype structure, 285 are within 50 meV/atom from the convex hull of stability. These compounds are further investigated using global structural prediction methods to obtain their lowest- energy crystal structure. We find 79 systems not present in the "Materials project database" that are thermodynamically stable and crystallize in the delafossite or in closely related structures. These novel phases are then characterized by calculating their band gaps and hole effective masses. This characterization unveils a large diversity of properties, ranging from normal metals, magnetic metals, and some candidate compounds for p-type transparent electrodes. At the end of the thesis, we give our general conclusion and an outlook