Electronic and vibrational properties of nickel sulfides from first principles
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We report the results of first-principles calculations (generalized gradient approximation–Perdew Wang 1991) on the electronic and vibrational properties of several nickel sulfides that are observed on Ni-based anodes in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) upon exposure to H₂S contaminated fuels: heazlewoodite Ni₃S₂, millerite NiS, polydymite Ni₃S₄, and pyrite NiS₂. The optimized lattice parameters of these sulfides are within 1% of the values determined from x-ray diffraction. The electronic structure analysis indicates that all Ni–S bonds are strongly covalent. Furthermore, it is found that the nickel d orbitals shift downward in energy, whereas the sulfur p orbitals shift upward with increasing sulfur content; this is consistent with the decrease in conductivity and catalytic activity of sulfur-contaminated Ni-based electrodes (or degradation in SOFC performance). In addition, we systematically analyze the classifications of the vibrational modes at the Γ point from the crystal symmetry and calculate the corresponding vibrational frequencies from the optimized lattice constants. This information is vital to the identification with in situ vibrational spectroscopy of the nickel sulfides formed on Ni-based electrodes under the conditions for SOFC operation. Finally, the effect of thermal expansion on frequency calculations for the Ni₃S₂ system is also briefly examined.
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