Dynamic and structural stability of cubic vanadium nitride
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2015
Structural phase transitions in epitaxial stoichiometric VN/MgO(011) thin films are investigated using temperature-dependent synchrotron x-ray diffraction (XRD), selected-area electron diffraction (SAED), resistivity measurements, high-resolution cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy, and ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD). At room temperature, VN has the B1 NaCl structure. However, below T-c = 250 K, XRD and SAED results reveal forbidden (00l) reflections of mixed parity associated with a noncentrosymmetric tetragonal structure. The intensities of the forbidden reflections increase with decreasing temperature following the scaling behavior I proportional to (T-c - T)(1/2). Resistivity measurements between 300 and 4 K consist of two linear regimes resulting from different electron/phonon coupling strengths in the cubic and tetragonal-VN phases. The VN transport Eliashberg spectral function alpha F-2(tr)(h omega), the product of the phonon density of states F(h omega) and the transport electron/phonon coupling strength alpha(2)(tr)(h omega), is determined and used in combination with AIMD renormalized phonon dispersion relations to show that anharmonic vibrations stabilize the NaCl structure at T > T-c. Free-energy contributions due to vibrational entropy, often neglected in theoretical modeling, are essential for understanding the room-temperature stability of NaCl-structure VN, and of strongly anharmonic systems in general.