Quantifying multipoint ordering in alloys

JM Goff and BY Li and SB Sinnott and I Dabo, PHYSICAL REVIEW B, 104, 054109 (2021).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.104.054109

A central problem in multicomponent lattice systems is to systematically quantify multipoint ordering. Ordering in such systems is often described in terms of pairs, even though this is not sufficient when three-point and higher-order interactions are included in the Hamiltonian. Current models and parameters for multipoint ordering are often only applicable for very specific cases or require approximating a subset of correlated occupational variables on a lattice as being uncorrelated. In this paper, cluster order parameters are introduced to systematically quantify arbitrary multipoint ordering motifs in substitutional systems through direct calculations of normalized cluster probabilities. These parameters can describe multipoint chemical ordering in crystal systems with multiple sublattices, multiple components, and systems with reduced symmetry. These are defined in this paper and applied to quantify four-point chemical ordering motifs in platinum/palladium alloy nanoparticles that are of practical interest to the synthesis of catalytic nanocages. Impacts of chemical ordering on nanocage stability are discussed. It is demonstrated that approximating four-point probabilities from superpositions of lower-order pair probabilities is not sufficient in cases where three- and four-body terms are included in the energy expression. Conclusions about the formation mechanisms of nanocages may change significantly when using common pair approximations.

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