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The use of empirical force fields is now a standard approach in predicting the properties of hydrated oxides which are omnipresent in both natural and engineering applications. Transferability of force fields to analogous hydrated oxides without rigorous investigations may result in misleading property predictions. Herein, we focus on two common empirical force fields, the simple point charge ClayFF potential and the core–shell potential to study tobermorite minerals, the most prominent family of Calcium–Silicate–Hydrates that are complex hydrated oxides. We benchmark the predictive capabilities of these force fields against first principles results. While the structural information seem to be in close agreement with DFT results, we find that for higher order properties such as elastic constants, the core–shell potential quantitatively improves upon the simple point charge model, and shows a larger degree of transferability to complex materials. In return, to remedy the deficiencies of the simple point charge potential for hydrated calcio-silicates, we suggest using both structural data and elasticity data for potential calibration, a new force field potential, CSH-FF. This re-parameterized version of ClayFF is then applied to simulating an atomistic model of cement (Pellenq et al., PNAS, 2009). We demonstrate that this force field improves the predictive capabilities of ClayFF, being considerably less computational intensive than the core–shell model.
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Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics
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