Diffusion of gold atom on Al(100) surface

In this ASE-tutorial:

the energy barrier for diffusion of a gold atom on an Al(100) surface is calculated using a semi-empirical EMT potential. In this exercise, we will try to use DFT and GPAW.

  • Run the script from the ASE-tutorial above and use the graphical representation to get good initial guesses for the height of the gold atom in the initial and transition states (hollow and bridge sites).

The PAW setups for both Al and Au are quite smooth, so we can try with a low plane-wave cutoff of 200 eV. For a quick’n’dirty calculation we can do with just a \(2 \times 2\) sampling of the surface Brillouin zone. Use these parameters for the DFT calculations:

calc = GPAW(mode=PW(200), kpts=(2, 2, 1), xc='PBE')

In order to speed up the calculation, use only two frozen Al(100) layers.

  • Calculate the energy of the initial and final states. Start from this script: initial.py. Do we need to apply any constraint to the gold atom?

  • What is the PBE energy barrier? (Do not repeat the ASE-tutorial with GPAW, but simply relax the gold atom at the transition state and use the total energy differences)

  • Can both initial and transition state calculations be done with only one k-point in the irreducible part of the Brillouin zone?

  • Try to repeat the EMT calculations with two frozen Al(100) layers.

Making Python Tool Boxes

A science project (like the one you are going to make), will often contain some repeated and similar sub tasks like loops over different kind of atoms, structures, parameters etc. As an alternative to a plethora of similar Python scripts, made by copy+paste, it is advantageous to put the repeated code into tool boxes.

Python supports such tool boxes (in Python called modules): put any Python code into a file stuff.py then it may be used as a tool box in other scripts, using the Python command: from stuff import thing, where thing can be almost anything. When Python sees this line, it runs the file stuff.py (only the first time) and makes thing available. Lets try an example:

  • In file stuff.py, put:

    constant = 17
    def function(x):
        return x - 5
  • and in file program.py, put:

    from stuff import constant, function
    print('result =', function(constant))
  • Now run the script program.py and watch the output.

You can think of ASE and GPAW as big collections of modules, that we use in our scripts.

Writing an adsorption script

As a non-trivial example of a Python module, try to write a function:

aual100(site, height)

The site argument should be one of the strings that the ase.build.fcc100() function accepts: 'ontop', 'hollow' or 'bridge'. The height argument is the height above the Al layer. The function must relax a gold atom at site, return the energy and write <site>.txt, <site>.traj, and <site>.gpw files. Start from initial.py and make the relevant changes.

  • You could have used this functions to calculate the energy barrier above. Use it to calculate the energy in the ontop site:

    e_ontop = aual100('ontop', 2.2)
  • What seems to determine the relative energetic ordering of the three sites?

  • Suppose now that an Au atom diffuses from one hollow to a neighboring hollow site at the surface. Assuming a prefactor of 1013/sec, how often does the diffusion take place at T = 100 K, 200 K, 300 K and 500 K.

  • For biological catalytic processes, a popular rule of thumb is that the rate doubles for every temperature increase of 10 K around room temperature. What activation energy does this correspond to?

  • Look at the relaxed configurations with the ase gui command:

    $ ase gui -r 3,3,2 ontop.traj


    $ ase gui -g 'd(4,-1),F[-1,2]' ontop.traj

    to plot the force in the z-direction on the gold atom as a function of the Au-Al distance. Note that -1 is the index of the last atom in the cell corresponding to the Au atom. Try also terminal-only-mode:

    $ ase gui -t -g 'd(4,-1),F[-1,2]' ontop.traj

Plot density differences

It is sometimes useful to look at density changes when studying for instance adsorption reactions. Copy the script densitydiff.py to your area.

Read it and try to understand what is does. Change the necessary lines to look at one of your slabs with Au adsorbed. The script will write the density difference to a .npy file using NumPy’s save() function (can be read with load(). Try this:

from mayavi import mlab
import numpy as np
d = np.load('densitydiff.npy')
d2 = np.tile(d, (2, 2, 1))  # repeat 2x2 times in x,y-plane