- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
Over the past decade computer simulation techniques have become an increasingly valuable tool in science as an aid to the interpretation of experimental data and as a means of yielding an atomic level model (Catlow et al. 1994; Wright et al. 1992). The scope of such methods has advanced alongside the developments in computational hardware, as has their accuracy, to the point where predictions can now be made ahead of experiment (Couves et al. 1993).
The development of the methodology for the simulation of inorganic and organic materials has largely evolved independently to date. For organic materials, interatomic potential calculations have utilized the natural connectivity of covalent systems to develop the molecular mechanics approach (Allinger 1977). The pioneering programs in this field, such as WMIN of Busing (1981) and PCK6 of Williams (1984) were able to simplify the problem by working with rigid molecules and therefore only intermolecular potentials had to be considered. However, varying degrees of intramolecular flexibility could also be introduced by defining molecules as a series of coupled rigid fragments.
In contrast inorganic materials, particular oxides and halides, have tended to be simulated starting from the concept of formally charged ions without covalent bonding. For many cases this leads to close-packed materials with relatively regular, high symmetry, structures. Deviations from such environments can be explained by inclusion of polarization of the anion, and occasionally the cation (Wilson et al. 1996a).
The aim of this chapter is to highlight some of the methods being used based on interatomic potentials in the simulation of mineral structures under various conditions, but with the emphasis on static approaches, as opposed to dynamical techniques.
INTERATOMIC POTENTIAL MODELS FOR IONIC MATERIALS
The basis on which interatomic potential methods are built is that the energy of a system can be expressed as a sum over many-body interaction …