Molecular dynamics simulations using empirical force fields (EFFs) are crucial for gaining fundamental insights into atomic structure and long time scale dynamics of Au nanoclusters with far-reaching applications in energy and devices. This approach is thwarted by the failure of currently available EFFs in describing the size-dependent dimensionality and diverse geometries exhibited by Au clusters (e.g., planar structures, hollow cages, tubes, pyramids, space-filled structures). Here, we mitigate this issue by introducing a new hybrid bond-order potential (HyBOP), which accounts for (a) short-range interactions via Tersoff-type BOP terms that accurately treat bond directionality and (b) long-range dispersion effects by a scaled Lennard-Jones term whose contribution depends on the local atomic density. We optimized the independent parameters for our HyBOP using a global optimization scheme driven by genetic algorithms. Moreover, to ensure good transferability of these parameters across different length scales, we used an extensive training data set that encompasses structural and energetic properties of 1000 13-atom Au clusters, surface energies, as well as bulk polymorphs, obtained from density functional theory (DFT) calculations. Our newly developed HyBOP has been found to accurately describe (a) global minimum energy configurations at different cluster sizes as well as order of stability of various cluster configurations at any size, (b) critical size of transition from planar to globular clusters, (c) evolution of structural motifs with cluster size, and (c) thermodynamics, structure, elastic properties, and energetic ordering of bulk condensed phases as well as surfaces, in excellent agreement with DFT calculations and spectroscopic experiments. This makes our newly developed HyBOP a valuable, computationally robust but inexpensive tool for investigating a wide range of materials phenomena occurring in Au at the atomistic level.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- General Energy
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films