Simulations of the synthesis of boron-nitride nanostructures in a hot, high pressure gas volume†
We performed nanosecond timescale computer simulations of clusterization and agglomeration processes of boron nitride (BN) nanostructures in hot, high pressure gas, starting from eleven different atomic and molecular precursor systems containing boron, nitrogen and hydrogen at various temperatures from 1500 to 6000 K. The synthesized BN nanostructures self-assemble in the form of cages, flakes, and tubes as well as amorphous structures. The simulations facilitate the analysis of chemical dynamics and we are able to predict the optimal conditions concerning temperature and chemical precursor composition for controlling the synthesis process in a high temperature gas volume, at high pressure. We identify the optimal precursor/temperature choices that lead to the nanostructures of highest quality with the highest rate of synthesis, using a novel parameter of the quality of the synthesis (PQS). Two distinct mechanisms of BN nanotube growth were found, neither of them based on the root-growth process. The simulations were performed using quantum-classical molecular dynamics (QCMD) based on the density-functional tight-binding (DFTB) quantum mechanics in conjunction with a divide-and-conquer (DC) linear scaling algorithm, as implemented in the DC-DFTB-K code, enabling the study of systems as large as 1300 atoms in canonical NVT ensembles for 1 ns time.