Order and randomness in dopant distributions: exploring the thermodynamics of solid solutions from atomically resolved imaging

12 Jul 2019  ·  Vlcek Lukas, Yang Shize, Gong Yongji, Ajayan Pulickel, Zhou Wu, Chisholm Matthew F., Ziatdinov Maxim, Vasudevan Rama K., Kalinin Sergei V. ·

Exploration of structure-property relationships as a function of dopant concentration is commonly based on mean field theories for solid solutions. However, such theories that work well for semiconductors tend to fail in materials with strong correlations, either in electronic behavior or chemical segregation... In these cases, the details of atomic arrangements are generally not explored and analyzed. The knowledge of the generative physics and chemistry of the material can obviate this problem, since defect configuration libraries as stochastic representation of atomic level structures can be generated, or parameters of mesoscopic thermodynamic models can be derived. To obtain such information for improved predictions, we use data from atomically resolved microscopic images that visualize complex structural correlations within the system and translate them into statistical mechanical models of structure formation. Given the significant uncertainties about the microscopic aspects of the material's processing history along with the limited number of available images, we combine model optimization techniques with the principles of statistical hypothesis testing. We demonstrate the approach on data from a series of atomically-resolved scanning transmission electron microscopy images of Mo$_x$Re$_{1-x}$S$_2$ at varying ratios of Mo/Re stoichiometries, for which we propose an effective interaction model that is then used to generate atomic configurations and make testable predictions at a range of concentrations and formation temperatures. read more

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Materials Science