Atomic and molecular adsorption on transition-metal carbide (111) surfaces from density-functional theory: a trend study of surface electronic factors
Journal article, 2010
This study explores atomic and molecular adsorption on a number of early transition-metal carbides (TMCs) in NaCl structure by means of density-functional theory calculations. The investigated substrates are the TM-terminated TMC(111) surfaces, of interest because of the presence of different types of surface resonances (SRs) on them and because of their technological importance in growth processes. Also, TM compounds have shown potential in catalysis applications. Trend studies are conducted with respect to both period and group in the periodic table, choosing the substrates ScC, TiC, VC, ZrC, NbC, delta-MoC, TaC, and WC (in NaCl structure) and the adsorbates H, B, C, N, O, F, NH, NH2, and NH3. Trends in adsorption strength are explained in terms of surface electronic factors, by correlating the calculated adsorption-energy values with the calculated surface electronic structures. The results are rationalized by use of a concerted-coupling model (CCM), which has previously been applied successfully to the description of adsorption on TiC(111) and TiN(111) surfaces (Ruberto et al 2007 Solid State Commun. 141 48). First, the clean TMC(111) surfaces are characterized by calculating surface energies, surface relaxations, Bader charges, and surface-localized densities of states (DOSs). Detailed comparisons between surface and bulk DOSs reveal the existence of transition-metal localized SRs (TMSRs) in the pseudogap and of several C-localized SRs (CSRs) in the upper valence band on all considered TMC(111) surfaces. The spatial extent and the dangling bond nature of these SRs are supported by real-space analyses of the calculated Kohn-Sham wavefunctions. Then, atomic and molecular adsorption energies, geometries, and charge transfers are presented. An analysis of the adsorbate-induced changes in surface DOSs reveals a presence of both adsorbate-TMSR and adsorbate-CSRs interactions, of varying strengths depending on the surface and the adsorbate. These variations are correlated to the variations in adsorption energies. The results are used to generalize the content and applications of the previously proposed CCM to this larger class of substrates and adsorbates. Implications for other classes of materials, for catalysis, and for other surface processes are discussed.