Accuracy of DFT computed oxygen-vacancy formation energies and high-throughput search of solar thermochemical water-splitting compounds

Bianca Baldassarri, Jiangang He, Xin Qian, Emanuela Mastronardo, Sean Griesemer, Sossina M. Haile, Christopher Wolverton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The enthalpy change involved in metal oxide reduction is a key quantity in various processes related to energy conversion and storage and is of particular interest for computational prediction. Often this prediction involves the simulation of a high-temperature reduction process with a 0-K methodology like density functional theory (DFT), and it is not infrequent for the high temperature and 0-K stable crystal structures to differ. This introduces a conundrum with regard to the choice of crystal structure to utilize in the computation, with approaches in the literature varying and experimental validation remaining scarce. In this work, we address both the crystal structure conundrum and the experimental validation, and then apply the insights we gain to guide a high-throughput search for new materials for solar thermochemical water-splitting applications. By computing the DFT+U oxygen-vacancy formation energy (ΔEvf) of a selection of ABO3 compounds and comparing different crystal structures for each composition, we highlight the issues that arise when the structure utilized in the computation is dynamically unstable at 0 K, namely the presence of an artificial lowering of ΔEvf, and the lack of convergence of ΔEvf with cell size. We solve these limitations by identifying and employing a suitable surrogate dynamically stable structure. We then validate the predictive power of our calculations against appositely generated experimental measurements of reduction enthalpy for a series of Hubbard U values, finding an accuracy ranging between 0.2-0.6 eV/O. In light of such conclusions, we revise and expand a previous a high-throughput DFT study on ABO3 perovskite oxides. We provide a list of candidate STCH materials, highlight trends with redox-active cation and structural distortion, and identify Mn4+, Mn3+, and Co3+ as the most promising redox-active cations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number065403
JournalPhysical Review Materials
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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