First Principles Studies of ABO3 Perovskite Surfaces and Nanostructures

Date of Completion

January 2012


Engineering, Materials Science




Perovskite-type complex oxides, with general formula ABO 3, constitute one of the most prominent classes of metal oxides which finds key applications in diverse technological fields. In recent years, properties of perovskites at reduced dimensions have aroused considerable interest. However, a complete atomic-level understanding of various phenomena is yet to emerge. To fully exploit the materials opportunities provided by nano-structured perovskites, it is important to characterize and understand their bulk and near-surface electronic structure along with the electric, magnetic, elastic and chemical properties of these materials in the nano-regime, where surface and interface effects naturally play a dominant role. In this thesis, state-of-the-art first principles computations are employed to systematically study properties of one- and two-dimensional perovskite systems which are of direct technological significance. Specifically, our bifocal study targets (1) polarization behavior and dielectric response of ABO3 ferroelectric nanowires, and (2) oxygen chemistry relevant for catalytic properties of ABO3 surfaces. In the first strand, we identify presence of novel closure or vortex-like polarization domains in PbTIO3 and BaTiO3 ferroelectric nanowires and explore ways to control the polarization configurations by means of strain and surface chemistry in these prototypical model systems. The intrinsic tendency towards vortex polarization at reduced dimensions and the underlying driving forces are discussed and previously unknown strain induced phase transitions are identified. Furthermore, to compute the dielectric permittivity of nanostructures, a new multiscale model is developed and applied to the PbTiO3 nanowires with conventional and vortex-like polarization configurations. The second part of the work undertaken in this thesis is comprised of a number of ab initio surface studies, targeted to investigate the effects of surface terminations, prevailing chemical environment and processing conditions on the surface relaxations, local electronic structure and chemical reactivity. By combining our first principles computations with an in-house developed kMC simulation approach, we describe the thermodynamics, steady-state kinetics and the long-time and large-length scale behavior of the catalytically active (001) MnO2-terminated LaMnO3 surface in contact with an oxygen reservoir, as a function of temperature and partial pressure of oxygen. The results obtained are in excellent agreement with available experimental data in the literature. ^