Reactive classical molecular dynamics simulations of sodium silicate glasses, xNa2O–(100 − x)SiO2 (x = 10–30), under quasi-static loading, were performed for the analysis of molecular scale fracture mechanisms. Mechanical properties of the sodium silicate glasses were consistent with experimentally reported values, and the amount of crack propagation varied with reported fracture toughness values. The most crack propagation occurred in NS20 systems (20-mol% Na2O) compared with the other simulated compositions. Dissipation via two mechanisms, the first through sodium migration as a lower activation energy process and the second through structural rearrangement as a higher activation energy process, was calculated and accounted for the energy that was not stored elastically or associated with the formation of new fracture surfaces. A correlation between crack propagation and energy dissipation was identified, with systems with higher crack propagation exhibiting less energy dissipation. Sodium silicate glass compositions with lower energy dissipation also exhibited the most sodium movement and structural rearrangement within 10 Å of the crack tip during loading. Therefore, high sodium mobility near the crack tip may enable energy dissipation without requiring formation of structural defects. Therefore, the varying mobilities of the network modifiers near crack tips influence the brittleness and the crack growth rate of modified amorphous oxide systems.
Direct air capture (DAC) of CO2 is one of the negative emission technologies under development to limit the impacts of climate change. The dilute concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere (~400 ppm) requires new materials for carbon capture with increased CO2 selectivity that is not met with current materials. Porous liquids (PLs) are an emerging material that consist of a combination of solvents and porous hosts creating a liquid with permanent porosity. PLs have demonstrated excellent CO2 selectivity, but the features that control how and why PLs selectively capture CO2 is unknown. To elucidate these mechanisms, density functional theory (DFT) simulations were used to investigate two different PLs. The first is a ZIF-8 porous host in a water/glycol/2-methylimidazole solvent. The second is the CC13 porous organic cage with multiple bulky solvents. DFT simulations identified that in both systems, CO2 preferentially bound in the pore window rather than in the internal pore space, identifying that the solvent-porous host interface controls the CO2 selectivity. Additionally, SNL synthesized ZIF-8 based PL compositions. Evaluation of the long-term stability of the PL identified no change in the ZIF-8 crystallinity after multiple agitation cycles, identifying its potential for use in carbon capture systems. Through this project, SNL has developed a fundamental understanding of solvent-host interactions, as well as how and where CO2 binds in PLs. Through these results, future efforts will focus not on how CO2 behaves inside the pore, but on the porous host-solvent interface as the driving force for PL stability and CO2 selectivity.
Brittle material failure in high consequence systems can appear random and unpredictable at subcritical stresses. Gaps in our understanding of how structural flaws and environmental factors (humidity, temperature) impact fracture propagation need to be addressed to circumvent this issue. A combined experimental and computational approach composed of molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, numerical modeling, and atomic force microscopy (AFM) has been undertaken to identify mechanisms of slow crack growth in silicate glasses. AFM characterization of crack growth as slow as 10-13 m/s was observed, with some stepwise crack growth. MD simulations have identified the critical role of inelastic relaxation in crack propagation, including evolution of the structure during relaxation. A numerical model for the existence of a stress intensity threshold, a stress intensity below which a fracture will not propagate, was developed. This transferrable model for predicting slow crack growth is being incorporated into mission-based programs.
Rare-earth polynuclear metal–organic frameworks (RE-MOFs) have demonstrated high durability for caustic acid gas adsorption and separation based on gas adsorption to the metal clusters. The metal clusters in the RE-MOFs traditionally contain RE metals bound by μ3–OH groups connected via organic linkers. Recent studies have suggested that these hydroxyl groups could be replaced by fluorine atoms during synthesis that includes a fluorine-containing modulator. Here, a combined modeling and experimental study was undertaken to elucidate the role of metal cluster fluorination on the thermodynamic stability, structure, and gas adsorption properties of RE-MOFs. Through systematic density-functional theory calculations, fluorinated clusters were found to be thermodynamically more stable than hydroxylated clusters by up to 8–16 kJ/mol per atom for 100% fluorination. The extent of fluorination in the metal clusters was validated through a 19F NMR characterization of 2,5-dihydroxyterepthalic acid (Y-DOBDC) MOF synthesized with a fluorine-containing modulator. 19F magic-angle spinning NMR identified two primary peaks in the isotropic chemical shift (δiso) spectra located at -64.2 and -69.6 ppm, matching calculated 19F NMR δiso peaks at -63.0 and -70.0 ppm for fluorinated systems. Calculations also indicate that fluorination of the Y-DOBDC MOF had negligible effects on the acid gas (SO2, NO2, H2O) binding energies, which decreased by only ~4 kJ/mol for the 100% fluorinated structure relative to the hydroxylated structure. Additionally, fluorination did not change the relative gas binding strengths (SO2 > H2O > NO2). Therefore, for the first time the presence of fluorine in the metal clusters was found to significantly stabilize RE-MOFs without changing their acid-gas adsorption properties.
Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) have recently been shown to exhibit unique mechanisms of luminescence based on charge transfer between structural units in the framework. These MOFs have the potential to be structural tuned for targeted emission with little or no metal participation. A computationally led, material design and synthesis methodology is presented here that elucidates the mechanisms of light emission in interpenetrated structures comprised of metal centers (M = In, Ga, InGa, InEu) and BTB (1,3,5-Tris(4-carboxyphenyl)benzene) linkers, forming unique luminescent M-BTB MOF frameworks. Gas phase and periodic electronic structure calculations indicate that the intensity of the emission and the wavelength are overwhelmingly controlled by a combination of the number of interacting stacked linkers and their interatomic spacings, respectively. In the MOF, the ionic radii of the metal centers primarily control the expansion or shrinkage of the linker stacking distances. Experimentally, multiple M-BTB-based MOFs are synthesized and their photoluminescence was tested. Experiments validated the modeling by confirming that shifts in the crystal structure result in variations in light emission. Through this material design method, the mechanisms of tuning luminescence properties in interpenetrated M-BTB MOFs have been identified and applied to the design of MOFs with specific wavelength emission based on their structure.
Understanding the selectivity of metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) to complex acid gas streams will enable their use in industrial applications. In this study, ab initio molecular dynamic simulations (AIMD) were used to simulate ternary gas mixtures (H2O-NO2-SO2) in rare earth 2,5-dihydroxyterephthalic acid (RE-DOBDC) MOFs. Stronger H2O gas-metal binding arose from thermal vibrations in the MOF sterically hindering access of SO2 and NO2 molecules to the metal sites. Gas-gas and gas-linker interactions within the MOF framework resulted in the formation of multiple secondary gas species including HONO, HNO2, NOSO, and HNO3⁻. Four gas adsorption sites were identified along with a new de-protonation reaction mechanism not observable through experiment. This study not only provides valuable information on competitive gas binding energies in the MOF, but it also provides important chemical insights into transient chemical reactions and mechanisms.
Civil infrastructure is made primarily of concrete structures or components and therefore understanding durability and fracture behavior of concrete is of utmost importance. Concrete contains an interfacial transition zone (ITZ), a porous region surrounding the aggregates, that is often considered to be the weakest region in the concrete. The ITZ is poorly characterized and property estimates for the ITZ differ considerably. In this simulation study, representative concrete mesostructures are produced by packing coarse aggregates with realistic geometries into a mortar matrix. A meshless numerical method, peridynamics, is utilized to simulate the mechanical response including fracture under uniaxial compression and tension. The sensitivity of the stiffness and fracture toughness of the samples to the ITZ properties is computed, showing strong relationships between the ITZ properties and the effective modulus and effective yield strength of the concrete. These results provides insight into the influence of the poorly characterized ITZ on the stiffness and strength of concrete. This work showcases the applicability of peridynamics to concrete systems, matching experimental strength and modulus values. Additionally, relationships between the ITZ's mechanical properties and the overall concrete strength and stiffness are presented to enable future design decisions.
Chemomechanical processes such as water weakening can control the permeability and deformation of rocks and manmade materials. Here, atomistic modeling and nanomechanical experiments were used to identify molecular origins of chemomechanical effects in calcium oxide (CaO) and its effect on observed elastic, plastic, and brittle deformation. Classical molecular dynamics simulations with the bond order-based reactive force-field ReaxFF were used to assess brittle fracture. In the presence of water, CaO fractured earlier and more often during quasi-static loading, with a calculated reduction in fracture toughness of ∼80% associated with changes in the stress distribution around the crack tip. Experimentally, elastic and plastic deformation of CaO surfaces exposed to water was assessed experimentally using in situ liquid nanoindentation. Nanoindentation showed that following exposure to water, the contact hardness decreased by 1-2 orders of magnitude and decreased the modulus by 2-3 orders of magnitude due to surface hydroxylation. The strong chemomechanical effects on the mechanical processes in CaO suggests that minerals with similar structures may exhibit comparable effects, influencing the stability of cements and geomaterials.
Elevated temperature and pressure in the earth's subsurface alters the permeability of salt formations, due to changing properties of the salt-brine interface. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are used to investigate the mechanisms of temperature and pressure dependence of liquid-solid interfacial tensions of NaCl, KCl, and NaCl-KCl brines in contact with (100) salt surfaces. Salt-brine dihedral angles vary between 55 and 76° across the temperature (300-450 K) and pressure range (0-150 MPa) evaluated. Temperature-dependent brine composition results in elevated dihedral angles of 65-80°, which falls above the reported salt percolation threshold of 60°. Mixed NaCl-KCl brine compositions increased this effect. Elevated temperatures excluded dissolved Na+ ions from the interface, causing the strong temperature dependence of the liquid-solid interfacial tension and the resulting dihedral angle. Therefore, at higher temperature, pressure, and brine concentrations Na-Cl systems may underpredict the dihedral angle. Higher dihedral angles in more realistic mixed brine systems maintain low permeability of salt formations due to changes in the structure and energetics of the salt-brine interface.
Formation of zeolite supported Ag0 clusters depends on a combination of thermodynamically stable atomic configurations, charge balance considerations, and mobility of species on the surface and within pores. Periodic density functional theory (DFT) calculations were performed to evaluate how the location of Al in the mordenite (MOR) framework and humidity control Ag0 nanocluster formation. Four Al framework sites were studied (T1-T4) and the Al positions in the framework were identified by the shifts in the differential Al⋯Al pair distribution function (PDF). Furthermore, structural information about the Ag0 nanoclusters, such as dangling bonds, can be identified by Ag⋯Ag PDF data. For Ag0 formation in vacuum MOR structures with a Si:Al ratio of 5:1 with Al in the T1 position resulted in the most framework flexibility and the lowest Ag0 nanocluster charge, indicating the best result for formation of charge neutral nanoclusters. When water is present, Al in the T3 and T4 positions results in the formation of the smallest average Ag0 nanoclusters plus greater expansion of the O-T-O bond angle than in vacuum, indicating easier diffusion of the Ag0 nanoclusters to the surface. The presence of Al in 4-membered rings and in pairs indicates favorable MOR structures for formation of single Ag atoms, despite the existence of synthesis challenges. Therefore, Al in the T2 position is the least favorable for Ag0 nanocluster formation in both vacuum and in the presence of water. Al in the T1, T3, and T4 positions provides beneficial effects through framework flexibility and changes in nanocluster size or charge that can be leveraged for design of zeolites for formation of metallic nanoclusters.
Brittle materials, such as cement, compose major portions of built infrastructure and are vulnerable to degradation and fracture from chemo-mechanical effects. Currently, methods of modeling infrastructure do not account for the presence of a reactive environment, such as water, on the acceleration of failure. Here, we have developed methodologies and models of concrete and cement fracture that account for varying material properties, such as strength, shrinkage, and fracture toughness due to degradation or hydration. The models have been incorporated into peridynamics, non-local continuum mechanics methodology, that can model intersecting and branching brittle fracture that occurs in multicomponent brittle materials, such as concrete. Through development of new peridynamic capabilities, decalcification of cement and differential shrinkage in clay-cement composites have been evaluated, along with exemplar problems in nuclear waste cannisters and wellbores. We have developed methods to simulate multiphase phenomena in cement and cement-composite materials for energy and infrastructure applications.
Modeling the degradation of cement-based infrastructure due to aqueous environmental conditions continues to be a challenge. In order to develop a capability to predict concrete infrastructure failure due to chemical degradation, we created a chemomechanical model of the effects of long-term water exposure on cement paste. The model couples the mechanical static equilibrium balance with reactive–diffusive transport and incorporates fracture and failure via peridynamics (a meshless simulation method). The model includes fundamental aspects of degradation of ordinary Portland cement (OPC) paste, including the observed softening, reduced toughness, and shrinkage of the cement paste, and increased reactivity and transport with water induced degradation. This version of the model focuses on the first stage of cement paste decalcification, the dissolution of portlandite. Given unknowns in the cement paste degradation process and the cost of uncertainty quantification (UQ), we adopt a minimally complex model in two dimensions (2D) in order to perform sensitivity analysis and UQ. We calibrate the model to existing experimental data using simulations of common tests such as flexure, compression and diffusion. Then we calculate the global sensitivity and uncertainty of predicted failure times based on variation of eleven unique and fundamental material properties. We observed particularly strong sensitivities to the diffusion coefficient, the reaction rate, and the shrinkage with degradation. Also, the predicted time of first fracture is highly correlated with the time to total failure in compression, which implies fracture can indicate impending degradation induced failure; however, the distributions of the two events overlap so the lead time may be minimal. Extension of the model to include the multiple reactions that describe complete degradation, viscous relaxation, post-peak load mechanisms, and to three dimensions to explore the interactions of complex fracture patterns evoked by more realistic geometry is straightforward and ongoing.
Reactive gas formation in pores of metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) is a known mechanism of framework destruction; understanding those mechanisms for future durability design is key to next generation adsorbents. Herein, an extensive set of ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) simulations are used for the first time to predict competitive adsorption of mixed acid gases (NO2 and H2O) and the in-pore reaction mechanisms for a series of rare earth (RE)-DOBDC MOFs. Spontaneous formation of nitrous acid (HONO) is identified as a result of deprotonation of the MOF organic linker, DOBDC. The unique DOBDC coordination to the metal clusters allows for proton transfer from the linker to the NO2 without the presence of H2O and may be a factor in DOBDC MOF durability. This is a previously unreported mechanisms of HONO formation in MOFs. With the presented methodology, prediction of future gas interactions in new nanoporous materials can be achieved.