- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
A central challenge for atomic level simulations of minerals is to be able to model the crystal structure, thermodynamics and atom transport. Clearly, if the same technique is employed then the underlying relationships between these properties can be examined. There are two atomistic simulation techniques that have been used to model these three properties for minerals, lattice dynamics (LD) and molecular dynamics (MD). The aim of this chapter is to describe these techniques and show, via a series of examples, how these methods can be applied.
Both techniques involve solving Newton’s Laws of Motion but differ in the approximations made. Lattice dynamics involves analytical solution of the equations of motion followed by the use of a statistical mechanical treatment to obtain the thermodynamic properties, such as free-energy and heat capacity. The central assumption of LD is that the vibrational modes in the material are harmonic. Hence this approach can not be used reliably for liquids but has been used extensively for modeling the thermal properties of solids (e.g., reviews by Born and Huang 1954; Cochran 1973; and Barron et al. 1980). In contrast, molecular dynamics uses a numerical solution to the equations of motion where the atom positions and velocities are updated regularly and hence is not constrained to solids and can be readily applied to fluids (e.g., Allen and Tildesley 1989 and references therein). The consequence of using a numerical solution is that it requires much more computer CPU time, particularly when evaluating thermodynamic data. However, by not making assumptions about the potential energy surface, MD has the potential to be more accurate.
The expansion in the application of both of these techniques to minerals in the last few years has resulted in many publications. The full range of applications is considerable and beyond the scope of …