The Atomistic Simulation Group headed by Professor Robin Grimes is based in the Department of Materials at Imperial College London. We use various simulation techniques to predict the atomic scale mechanisms and processes underpinning material properties in order to improve the understanding and design of new materials.

The group uses both quantum mechanical and classical pair-potential approaches to study various systems including:

  • Energy Materials:
    • Fuel cells.
    • Batteries.
    • Nuclear fuel.
    • Nuclear waste.
    • Fusion materials.
  • Semiconductors.
  • Glasses.

Latest News

Preprint of New Paper Now available: "From solid solution to cluster formation of Fe and Cr in α-Zr"

Our latest paper on alloying additions in Zr is now available as a pre-print on arXiv:

  • P.A. Burr, M.R. Wenman, B. Gault, M.P. Moody, M.Ivermark, M.J.D. Rushton, M. Preuss, L. Edwards and R.W. Grimes, “From solid solution to cluster formation of Fe and Cr in α-Zr”, arXiv preprint (2015). PDF

By combining ab-initio simulations with advanced experimental techniques we investigate the microstructural change of Zr alloys under irradiation Zr alloys are used as nuclear fuel cladding, and their integrity is crucial for the safe production of nuclear power. Of particular concern is the increase in corrosion that is observed when Fe and Cr particles (alloys additions) are dissolved. Dissolution of these particles is related to neutron irradiation, but the mechanisms by which this occurs is still unknown.

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New Paper - "Prediction and Characterisation of Radiation Damage in Fluorapatite"

Our latest paper is now available from the Journal of Materials Chemistry A site:

In this paper we performed threshold displacement energy calculations and full damage cascades for the fluorapatite structure using molecular dynamics in conjunction with effective pair potentials. Fluorapatite is being considered as a host for the long term immobilisation of halide bearing nuclear wastes. As a result it is important to understand how the apatite structure withstands and recovers from radiation damage. Of particular interest were the structural changes noted in our damaged structures: phosphate polyhedra were found to form polymer chains, typical of phosphate glasses, that were interwoven with the calcium metaprisms forming the backbone of the apatite structure. The coincidence of these amorphous and crystalline features should help in our further understanding of the long term durability of this material.

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New Paper - "Genetics of superionic conductivity in lithium lanthanum titanates"

We pleased to announce the publication of our new paper on lithium diffusion within lithium lanthanum titanate:

Lithium lanthanum titanate (LLTO) is a material that shows high lithium diffusivity even at room temperature, this makes it of considerable interest for battery applications. In the present paper we set out to try and understand how the arrangement of lanthanum atoms within this material leads to LLTO’s beneficial properties. This was achieved by using a genetic algorithm to search for configurations with particularly high diffusivities. These were then examined to see what could be gleaned from their structure in order to unlock the key to LLTO’s beneficial properties. The paper can be found here.

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New Paper - "Thermal conductivity and energetic recoils in UO₂ using a many-body potential model"

We are please to announce a new publication in collaboration with ANSTO on the effect of radiation damage on the thermal conductivity of UO2 using our recently developed many-body actinide oxide potential.

A comparison of the damage profile predicted by the many-body potential is made against previous potential models. A significant degradation in thermal conductivity is then predicted as a consequence. The conductivity of amorphous UO2 is also calculated.

New Paper - "Peroxide defect formation in zirconate perovskites"

Our paper is now available from the Journal of Materials Chemistry A site:

In this paper we find a novel method for the accomodation of excess oxygen in ternary perovskite oxides. These materials are of high interest due to their proton conductivity and high temperature stability. For these properties, it is crucial to understand if the material may accomodate deviation from stoichiometry and what is the underlying mechanism. A peroxide substitution defects (i.e. two tightly bonded oxygen atoms replacing a single lattice oxigen) was predicted to be more favourable than conventional oxygen defects at low electron chemical potentials, as these can be accomodated without the need for a charge compensating species. In particular, for BeZrO3 this has important implicaitons as it reduces the solution energy of excess oxygen down to near 0 eV. These predictions were confirmed by Raman spectroscopy of BaZrO3 and SrZrO3 that were treated with H2O2.

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Updated details on actinide potential model: error-function for short range cut-off

The page describing the actinide potential model has undergone a minor update. The details of the short range cutoff on the EAM component of the model has been explicitly described. An error function is used to smoothly taper the density term of the EAM to zero at 1.5 Å.

In addition, to demonstrate that a smooth cutoff is achieved the full actinide oxygen interaction for PuO2 ThO2 and UO2 is plotted as a function of interatomic separation. Furthermore, the many-body nature of the model is shown by plotting this interaction with different numbers of coordinating oxygen atoms. The actinide-oxygen bond strength is progressively weakened as the coordination number increases.

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