A first-principles study of the thermodynamic and electronic properties of Mg and MgH2 nanowires†
In this article, we studied the thermodynamic and electronic properties of Mg and MgH2 nanowires with different diameters, and elucidated why MgH2 nanowires are good hydrogen storage materials through first-principles calculations. Previous experiments have shown that the orientation relationship between Mg and MgH2 nanowires is the Mg direction parallel to the MgH2 direction. In our calculations, Mg nanowires oriented along the  direction and MgH2 nanowires oriented along the  direction were built from bulk Mg and MgH2 crystals, respectively. We found that as the diameters of Mg and MgH2 nanowires decrease, Mg and MgH2 nanowires become more unstable, and the hydrogen desorption energies and temperatures of MgH2 nanowires decrease. That is, the thinner the MgH2 nanowires get, the more dramatically hydrogen desorption temperatures (Td) will decrease. Meanwhile, we also found that when the diameters of MgH2 nanowires are larger than 1.94 nm, the Td almost maintain the same value at about 440 K, only about 40 K lower than that of bulk MgH2 crystal; if the diameters are less than 1.94 nm, the Td reduce very quickly. In particular, compared with bulk MgH2 crystal, the Td of the thinnest MgH2 nanowire with a diameter of 0.63 nm can be reduced by 164 K. In addition, the electronic structure calculations showed that Mg nanowires are metals, while MgH2 nanowires are semiconductors. In particular, our results showed that the electronic structures of MgH2 nanowires are influenced by the surface effect and quantum size effect. That is to say, the band gaps of MgH2 nanowires are controlled by surface electronic states and the size of MgH2 nanowires.