Hydrogen in aluminum: First-principles calculations of structure and thermodynamics

C. Wolverton*, V. Ozoliņš, M. Asta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

278 Scopus citations


Despite decades of study, several key aspects of the A1-H system remain the subject of considerable debate. In an effort to elucidate some of these unknowns, we perform a systematic study of this system using first-principles density-functional calculations. We show that generalized gradient approximation (GGA) calculations provide an accurate picture of energetics, phase stability and structure, diffusion, and defect binding in the A1-H system. A series of calculations for hydrides in the M-H systems (M = A1, Ba, Ca, K, Mg, La, Li, Na, Ni, Pd, Sc, Sr, Ti, V, and Y) also shows that the GGA calculations are a quantitatively accurate predictor of hydride formation energies. For A1-H, we find: (i) In agreement with experiment, the observed metastable hydride, A1H3 is found to have a small, negative formation enthalpy at ambient conditions, but a strongly positive formation free energy. (ii) Linear response calculations of A1H3 yield vibrational frequencies, phonon densities of states (DOS), and heat capacities in excellent agreement with experimental measurements, and suggest the need for a reinterpretation of measured phonon DOS. (iii) Atomic relaxation and anharmonic vibrational effects both play an important role in the tetrahedral versus octahedral interstitial site preference of H in A1. (iv) The calculated heat of solution of H in the preferred tetrahedral site is large and positive (+0.71 eV), consistent with experimental solubility data and with A1 as an endothermic hydrogen absorber. (v) Interstitial H interacts strongly with A1 vacancies (□), with a calculated H-□ binding energy of 0.33 eV. (vi) In the absence of vacancies, the calculated migration energy of H between the tetrahedral and octahedral interstitial sites is 0.18 eV, but for H migrating away from an A1 vacancy, the migration energy increases to 0.54 eV. Vacancy trapping of H can therefore provide an explanation for observed disparate H migration barriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number144109
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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