A computational study of ionic vacancies and diffusion in MgSiO3 perovskite and post-perovskite

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We have performed first-principles simulations within density functional theory to investigate the effects of pressure on the formation of defects (ionic vacancies) and ionic diffusion in the perovskite (pv) and post-perovskite (ppv) phases of MgSiO . Our results show that the predicted formation enthalpies of three Schottky (MgO, SiO and MgSiO ) defects are similar between the two phases at high pressures (100 to 150 GPa) with MgO Schottky defect being the most favorable. However, the calculated activation enthalpies and activation volumes of diffusion are shown to differ substantially between them. In particular, the activation enthalpies for Mg and Si diffusion in ppv are smaller than the corresponding values for pv, for example, by factors of 2.2 and 3.4, respectively, at 120 GPa, whereas the O migration enthalpy of ppv is only slightly larger than that of pv. The easy migration paths of the cations in ppv are shown to take place along the 〈100〉 direction in which Si-O octahedra share the edges. Visualization of the simulation data reveals that the vacancy defects and migrating ions induce substantial distortions in the atomic and electronic structures around them. It is suggested that diffusion is equally easy for all three species in ppv and is likely to occur through extrinsic processes near the bottom of the lower mantle. 3 2 3

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Earth and Planetary Science Letters

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