The high-temperature cubic-tetragonal phase transition of pure stoichiometric zirconia is studied by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and within the framework of the Landau theory of phase transformations. The interatomic forces are calculated using an empirical, self-consistent, orthogonal tight-binding model, which includes atomic polarizabilities up to the quadrupolar level. A first set of standard MD calculations shows that, on increasing temperature, one particular vibrational frequency softens. The temperature evolution of the free-energy surfaces around the phase transition is then studied with a second set of calculations. These combine the thermodynamic integration technique with constrained MD simulations. The results seem to support the thesis of a second-order phase transition but with unusual, very anharmonic behavior above the transition temperature.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics