Using a modified symbiotic genetic algorithm approach and many-body interatomic potential derived from first principles, we have calculated equilibrium geometries and binding energies of the ground-state and low-lying isomers of Be clusters containing up to 41 atoms. Molecular-dynamics study was also carried out to study the frequency of occurrence of the various geometrical isomers as these clusters are annealed during the simulation process. For a selected group of these clusters, higher-energy isomers were more often found than their ground-state structures due to large catchment areas. The accuracy of the above ground-state geometries and their corresponding binding energies were verified by carrying out separate ab initio calculations based on molecular-orbital approach and density-functional theory with generalized gradient approximation for exchange and correlation. The atomic orbitals were represented by a Gaussian 6-311G * basis, and the geometry optimization was carried out using the GAUSSIAN 98 code without any symmetry constraint. While the ground-state geometries and their corresponding binding energies obtained from ab initio calculations do not differ much from those obtained using the molecular-dynamics approach, the relative stability of the clusters and the energy gap between the highest occupied and the lowest unoccupied molecular orbitals show significant differences. The energy gaps, calculated using the density-functional theory, show distinct shell closure effects, namely, sharp drops in their values for Be clusters containing 2, 8, 20, 34, and 40 electrons. While these features may suggest that small Be clusters behave free-electron-like and, hence, are metallic, the evolution of the structure, binding energies, coordination numbers, and nearest-neighbor distances do not show any sign of convergence towards the bulk value. We also conclude that molecular-dynamics simulation based on many-body interatomic potentials may not always give the correct picture of the evolution of the structure and energetics of clusters although they may serve as a useful tool for obtaining starting geometries by efficiently searching a large part of the phase space.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry