Multi-scale simulation of structural heterogeneity of swift-heavy ion tracks in complex oxides

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Tracks formed by swift-heavy ion irradiation, 2.2 GeV Au, of isometric Gd2Ti2O7 pyrochlore and orthorhombic Gd 2TiO5 were modeled using the thermal-spike model combined with a molecular-dynamics simulation. The thermal-spike model was used to calculate the energy dissipation over time and space. Using the time, space, and energy profile generated from the thermal-spike model, the molecular-dynamics simulations were performed to model the atomic-scale evolution of the tracks. The advantage of the combination of these two methods, which uses the output from the continuum model as an input for the atomistic model, is that it provides a means of simulating the coupling of the electronic and atomic subsystems and provides simultaneously atomic-scale detail of the track structure and morphology. The simulated internal structure of the track consists of an amorphous core and a shell of disordered, but still periodic, domains. For Gd2Ti2O7, the shell region has a disordered pyrochlore with a defect fluorite structure and is relatively thick and heterogeneous with different degrees of disordering. For Gd2TiO 5, the disordered region is relatively small as compared with Gd 2Ti2O7. In the simulation, 'facets', which are surfaces with definite crystallographic orientations, are apparent around the amorphous core and more evident in Gd2TiO5 along [010] than [001], suggesting an orientational dependence of the radiation response. These results show that track formation is controlled by the coupling of several complex processes, involving different degrees of amorphization, disordering, and dynamic annealing. Each of the processes depends on the mass and energy of the energetic ion, the properties of the material, and its crystallographic orientation with respect to the incident ion beam. © 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd.

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Journal of Physics Condensed Matter

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