Category Archive: publications

Apr 28

Mechanochemical synthesis of nanostructured metal nitrides, carbonitrides and carbon nitride: A combined theoretical and experimental study

Authors: Seyyed Amin Rounaghi, Danny E.P. Vanpoucke, Hossein Eshghi, Sergio Scudino, Elaheh Esmaeily, Steffen Oswald and Jürgen Eckert
Journal: Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 19, 12414-12424 (2017)
doi: 10.1039/C7CP00998D
IF(2015): 4.449
export: bibtex
pdf: <Phys.Chem.Chem.Phys.>

Abstract

Nowadays, the development of highly efficient routes for the low cost synthesis of nitrides is greatly growing. Mechanochemical synthesis is one of those promising techniques which is conventionally employed for the synthesis of nitrides by long term milling of metallic elements under pressurized N2 or NH3 atmosphere (A. Calka and J. I. Nikolov, Nanostruct. Mater., 1995, 6, 409-412). In the present study, we describe a versatile, room-temperature and low cost mechanochemical process for the synthesis of nanostructured metal nitrides (MNs), carbonitrides (MCNs) and carbon nitride (CNx). Based on this technique, melamine as a solid nitrogen-containing organic compound (SNCOC) is ball milled with four different metal powders (Al, Ti, Cr and V) to produce nanostructured AlN, TiCxN1-x, CrCxN1-x, and VCxN1-x (x~0.05). Both theoretical and experimental techniques are implemented to determine the reaction intermediates, products, by-products and finally, the mechanism underling this synthetic route. According to the results, melamine is polymerized in the presence of metallic elements at intermediate stages of the milling process, leading to the formation of a carbon nitride network. The CNx phase subsequently reacts with the metallic precursors to form MN, MCN or even MCN-CNx nano-composites depending on the defect formation energy and thermodynamic stability of the corresponding metal nitride, carbide and C/N co-doped structures.

Mar 30

Linker Functionalization in MIL-47(V)-R Metal–Organic Frameworks: Understanding the Electronic Structure

Authors: Danny E. P. Vanpoucke
Journal: J. Phys. Chem. C 121(14), 8014-8022 (2017)
doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.7b01491
IF(2015): 4.509
export: bibtex
pdf: <J.Phys.Chem.C>
Graphical Abstract: Evolution of the electronic band structure of MIL-47(V) upon OH-functionalization of the BDC linker.
Graphical Abstract: Evolution of the electronic band structure of MIL-47(V) upon OH-functionalization of the BDC linker. The π-orbital of the BDC linker splits upon functionalisation, and the split-off π-band moves up into the band gap, effectively reducing the latter.

Abstract

Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) have gained much interest due to their intrinsic tunable nature. In this work, we study how linker functionalization modifies the electronic structure of the host MOF, more specifically, the MIL-47(V)-R (R = −F, −Cl, −Br, −OH, −CH3, −CF3, and −OCH3). It is shown that the presence of a functional group leads to a splitting of the π orbital on the linker. Moreover, the upward shift of the split-off π-band correlates well with the electron-withdrawing/donating nature of the functional groups. For halide functional groups the presence of lone-pair back-donation is corroborated by calculated Hirshfeld-I charges. In the case of the ferromagnetic configuration of the host MIL-47(V+IV) material a half-metal to insulator transition is noted for the −Br, −OCH3, and −OH functional groups, while for the antiferromagnetic configuration only the hydroxy group results in an effective reduction of the band gap.

Sep 25

Mechanochemical route to the synthesis of nanostructured Aluminium nitride

Authors: S. A. Rounaghi, H. Eshghi, S. Scudino, A. Vyalikh, D. E. P. Vanpoucke, W. Gruner,
S. Oswald, A. R. Kiani Rashid, M. Samadi Khoshkhoo, U. Scheler and J. Eckert
Journal: Scientific Reports 6, 33375 (2016)
doi: 10.1038/srep33375
IF(2015): 5.228
export: bibtex
pdf: <Sci.Rep.> (open access)

Abstract

Hexagonal Aluminium nitride (h-AlN) is an important wide-bandgap semiconductor material which is conventionally fabricated by high temperature carbothermal reduction of alumina under toxic ammonia atmosphere. Here we report a simple, low cost and potentially scalable mechanochemical procedure for the green synthesis of nanostructured h-AlN from a powder mixture of Aluminium and melamine precursors. A combination of experimental and theoretical techniques has been employed to provide comprehensive mechanistic insights on the reactivity of melamine, solid state metalorganic interactions and the structural transformation of Al to h-AlN under non-equilibrium ball milling conditions. The results reveal that melamine is adsorbed through the amine groups on the Aluminium surface due to the long-range van der Waals forces. The high energy provided by milling leads to the deammoniation of melamine at the initial stages followed by the polymerization and formation of a carbon nitride network, by the decomposition of the amine groups and, finally, by the subsequent diffusion of nitrogen into the Aluminium structure to form h-AlN

Feb 11

First-Principles Study of Antisite Defect Configurations in ZnGa2O4:Cr Persistent Phosphors

Authors: Arthur De Vos, Kurt Lejaeghere, Danny E. P. Vanpoucke, Jonas J. Joos, Philippe F. Smet, and Karen Hemelsoet
Journal: Inorg. Chem. 55(5), 2402-2412 (2016)
doi: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.5b02805
IF(2015): 4.820
export: bibtex
pdf: <Inorg.Chem>
Graphical Abstract: (left) Ball-and-stick model of zinc gallate (right) density of states of Cr doped zinc gallate.
Graphical Abstract: First-principles simulations on zinc gallate solid phosphors (ZGO) containing a chromium dopant and antisite defects (left) rationalize the attractive interactions between the various elements. A large number of antisite pair configurations is investigated and compared with isolated antisite defects. Defect energies point out the stability of the antisite defects in ZGO. Local structural distortions are reported, and charge transfer mechanisms are analyzed based on theoretical density of states (right) and Hirshfeld-I charges.

Abstract

Zinc gallate doped with chromium is a recently developed near-infrared emitting persistent phosphor, which is now extensively studied for in vivo bioimaging and security applications. The precise mechanism of this persistent luminescence relies on defects, in particular, on antisite defects and antisite pairs. A theoretical model combining the solid host, the dopant, and/or antisite defects is constructed to elucidate the mutual interactions in these complex materials. Energies of formation as well as dopant, and defect energies are calculated through density-functional theory simulations of large periodic supercells. The calculations support the chromium substitution on the slightly distorted octahedrally coordinated gallium site, and additional energy levels are introduced in the band gap of the host. Antisite pairs are found to be energetically favored over isolated antisites due to significant charge compensation as shown by calculated Hirshfeld-I charges. Significant structural distortions are found around all antisite defects. The local Cr surrounding is mainly distorted due to a ZnGa antisite. The stability analysis reveals that the distance between both antisites dominates the overall stability picture of the material containing the Cr dopant and an antisite pair. The findings are further rationalized using calculated densities of states and Hirshfeld-I charges.

Feb 01

Computational Materials Science: Where Theory Meets Experiments

Authors: Danny E. P. Vanpoucke,
Journal: Developments in Strategic Ceramic Materials:
Ceramic Engineering and Science Proceedings 36(8), 323-334 (2016)
(ICACC 2015 conference proceeding)
Editors: Waltraud M. Kriven, Jingyang Wang, Dongming Zhu,Thomas Fischer, Soshu Kirihara
ISBN: 978-1-119-21173-0
webpage: Wiley-VCH
export: bibtex
pdf: <preprint> 

Abstract

In contemporary materials research, we are able to create and manipulate materials at ever smaller scales: the growth of wires with nanoscale dimensions and the deposition of layers with a thickness of only a few atoms are just two examples that have become common practice. At this small scale, quantum mechanical effects become important, and this is where computational materials research comes into play. Using clever approximations, it is possible to simulate systems with a scale relevant for experiments. The resulting theoretical models provide fundamental insights in the underlying physics and chemistry, essential for advancing modern materials research. As a result, the use of computational experiments is rapidly becoming an important tool in materials research both for predictive modeling of new materials and for gaining fundamental insights in the behavior of existing materials. Computer and lab experiments have complementary limitations and strengths; only by combining them can the deepest fundamental secrets of a material be revealed.

In this paper, we discuss the application of computational materials science for nanowires on semiconductor surfaces, ceramic materials and flexible metal-organic frameworks, and how direct comparison can advance insight in the structure and properties of these materials.

Feb 01

Doping of CeO2 as a Tunable Buffer Layer for Coated Superconductors: A DFT Study of Mechanical and Electronic Properties

Authors: Danny E. P. Vanpoucke,
Journal: Developments in Strategic Ceramic Materials:
Ceramic Engineering and Science Proceedings 36(8), 169-177 (2016)
(ICACC 2015 conference proceeding)
Editors: Waltraud M. Kriven, Jingyang Wang, Dongming Zhu,Thomas Fischer, Soshu Kirihara
ISBN: 978-1-119-21173-0
webpage: Wiley-VCH
export: bibtex
pdf: <preprint> 

Abstract

In layered ceramic superconductor architectures, CeO2 buffer layers are known to form micro cracks during the fabrication process. To prevent this crack formation, doping of the CeO2 layer has been suggested. In this theoretical study, the influence of dopants (both tetravalent and aliovalent) on the mechanical and structural properties of CeO2 is investigated by means of density functional theory. Group IVa and IVb dopants show clearly distinct stability, with the former favouring interface and surface doping, while the latter favour uniform bulk doping. This behaviour is linked to the dopant electronic structure. The presence of charge compensating vacancies is shown to complicate the mechanical and structural picture for aliovalent dopants. We find that the vacancies often counteract the dopant modifications of the host material. In contrast, all dopants show an inverse relation between the bulk modulus and thermal expansion coefficient, independent of their valency and the presence of oxygen vacancies. Based on the study of these idealized systems, new dopants are suggested for applications.

Nov 16

A Flexible Photoactive Titanium Metal-Organic Framework Based on a [TiIV33-O)(O)2(COO)6] Cluster

Authors: Bart Bueken, Frederik Vermoortele, Danny E. P. Vanpoucke, Helge Reinsch, Chih-Chin Tsou, Pieterjan Valvekens, Trees De Baerdemaeker, Rob Ameloot, Christine E. A. Kirschhock, Veronique Van Speybroeck, James M. Mayer and Dirk De Vos
Journal: Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 54(47), 13912-13917 (2015)
doi: 10.1002/anie.201505512
IF(2015): 11.705
export: bibtex
pdf: <Angew.Chem.Int.Ed.> 

Abstract

The synthesis of titanium-carboxylate metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) is hampered by the high reactivity of the commonly employed alkoxide precursors. Here, we present an innovative approach to Ti-based MOFs using titanocene dichloride to synthesize COK-69, the first breathing Ti-MOF built up of trans-1,4- cyclohexanedicarboxylate linkers and an unprecedented [TiIV33-O)(O)2(COO)6] cluster. The photoactive properties of COK-69 were investigated in-depth by proton-coupled electron transfer experiments, which revealed that up to one TiIV per cluster can be photoreduced to TiIII, while preserving the structural integrity of the framework. From molecular modeling, the electronic structure of COK-69 was determined and a band gap of 3.77 eV was found.

Nov 13

Cover Image of Crystal Engineering Communications: Fine-tuning the theoretically predicted structure of MIL-47(V) with the aid of powder X-ray diffraction

Authors: Thomas Bogaerts, Louis Vanduyfhuys, Danny E.P. Vanpoucke, Jelle Wieme, Michel Waroquier, Pascal Van Der Voort, and Veronique Van Speybroeck,
Journal: CrystEngComm. 17(45), 8565 (2015)
doi: 10.1039/C5CE90198G
IF(2015): 3.849
export: bibtex
pdf: <CrystEngComm>

Abstract

The cover image depicts an X-ray beam hitting a sample of MIL-47(V) Metal-Organic Framework (reddish powder), resulting in an X-ray diffraction pattern. This leads to the atomic structure on the left, Where the spin-densities are indicated for the anti-ferromagnetic ground state.  (The related paper can be found here.)


Cover of CrystEngComm: Volume 17, Issue 45, dec. 7, 2015

Nov 05

Understanding intrinsic light absorption properties of UiO-66 frameworks: A combined theoretical and experimental study

Authors: Kevin Hendrickx, Danny E.P. Vanpoucke, Karen Leus, Kurt Lejaeghere,
Andy Van Yperen-De Deyne, Veronique Van Speybroeck, Pascal Van Der
Voort, and Karen Hemelsoet
Journal: Inorg. Chem. 54(22), 10701-10710 (2015)
doi: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.5b01593
IF(2015): 4.820
export: bibtex
pdf:  <Inorg.Chem.>

Abstract

Linker-functionalization of UiO-66 modifies the optical band gap and thus the color of the MOF.

Linker-functionalization of UiO-66 modifies the optical band gap and thus the color of the MOF.

A combined theoretical and experimental study is performed in order to elucidate the eff ects of linker functional groups on the photoabsorption properties of UiO-66-type materials. This study, in which both mono- and di-functionalized linkers (with X= -OH, -NH2, -SH) are studied, aims to obtain a more complete picture on the choice of functionalization. Static Time-Dependent Density Functional Theory (TD-DFT) calculations combined with Molecular Dynamics simulations are performed on the linkers and compared to experimental UV/VIS spectra, in order to understand the electronic eff ects governing the absorption spectra. Di-substituted linkers show larger shifts compared to mono-substituted variants, making them promising candidates for further study as photocatalysts. Next, the interaction between the linker and the inorganic part of the framework is theoretically investigated using a cluster model. The proposed Ligand-to-Metal-Charge Transfer (LMCT) is theoretically observed and is influenced by the differences in functionalization. Finally, computed electronic properties of the periodic UiO-66 materials reveal that the band gap can be altered by linker functionalization and ranges from 4.0 down to 2.2 eV. Study of the periodic Density of States (DOS) allows to explain the band gap modulations of the framework in terms of a functionalization-induced band in the band gap of the original UiO-66 host.

Oct 16

Mechanical Properties from Periodic PlaneWave Quantum Mechanical Codes: The Challenge of the Flexible Nanoporous MIL-47(V) Framework

Authors: Danny E. P. Vanpoucke, Kurt Lejaeghere, Veronique Van Speybroeck, Michel Waroquier, and An
Ghysels
Journal: J. Phys. Chem. C 119(41), 23752-23766 (2015)
doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.5b06809
IF(2015): 4.509
export: bibtex
pdf: <J.Phys.Chem.C> 
Graphical Abstract: Pulay stresses complicate the structure optimization of the breathing MIL-47(V) Metal-Organic Framework.
Graphical Abstract: Pulay stresses complicate the structure optimization of the breathing MIL-47(V) Metal-Organic Framework.

Abstract

Modeling the flexibility of metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) requires the computation of mechanical properties from first principles, e.g., for screening of materials in a database, for gaining insight into structural transformations, and for force field development. However, this paper shows that computations with periodic density functional theory are challenged by the flexibility of these materials: guidelines from experience with standard solid-state calculations cannot be simply transferred to flexible porous frameworks. Our test case, the MIL-47(V) material, has a large-pore and a narrow-pore shape. The effect of Pulay stress (cf. Pulay forces) leads to drastic errors for a simple structure optimization of the flexible MIL-47(V) material. Pulay stress is an artificial stress that tends to lower the volume and is caused by the finite size of the plane wave basis set. We have investigated the importance of this Pulay stress, of symmetry breaking, and of k-point sampling on (a) the structure optimization and (b) mechanical properties such as elastic constants and bulk modulus, of both the large-pore and narrow-pore structure of MIL-47(V). We found that, in the structure optimization, Pulay effects should be avoided by using a fitting procedure, in which an equation of state E(V) (EOS) is fit to a series of energy versus volume points. Manual symmetry breaking could successfully lower the energy of MIL-47(V) by distorting the vanadium–oxide distances in the vanadyl chains and by rotating the benzene linkers. For the mechanical properties, the curvature of the EOS curve was compared with the Reuss bulk modulus, derived from the elastic tensor in the harmonic approximation. Errors induced by anharmonicity, the eggbox effect, and Pulay effects propagate into the Reuss modulus. The strong coupling of the unit cell axes when the unit cell deforms expresses itself in numerical instability of the Reuss modulus. For a flexible material, it is therefore advisible to resort to the EOS fit procedure.

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