Carbon atom adsorption on and diffusion into Fe(110) and Fe(100) from first principles

D. E. Jiang, Emily A. Carter

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142 Scopus citations


We employ spin-polarized periodic density functional theory (DFT) to examine carbon atom adsorption on, absorption in, and diffusion into Fe(110) and Fe(100). We find that carbon atoms bind strongly with Fe surfaces and prefer high coordination sites. The carbon atom is predicted to adsorb on the long-bridge site on Fe(110) and the fourfold hollow site on Fe(100). Due to the very short distance between the carbon atom and the subsurface Fe atom of Fe(100), the carbon atom binds more strongly with Fe(100) than with Fe(110). In the subsurface region, the carbon atom prefers the octahedral site, as in bulk Fe. We find that the carbon atom is more stable in the subsurface octahedral site of Fe(110) than that of Fe(100), since the strain caused by the interstitial carbon atom is released by pushing one surface Fe atom towards vacuum by 0.5 Å in Fe(110), while the distortion in Fe(100) propagates far into the lattice. Diffusion of carbon atoms into Fe(110) and Fe(100) subsurfaces goes through transition states where the carbon atom is coordinated to four Fe atoms. The barriers to diffusion into Fe(110) and Fe(100) are 1.18 eV and 1.47 eV, respectively. The larger diffusion barrier into Fe(100) is mainly due to the stronger bonding between carbon and the Fe(100) surface. We predict that the rate-limiting step for C incorporation into bulk Fe is the initial diffusion to subsurface sites, while the rate-limiting step for absorbed carbon segregation to the surface is bulk diffusion, with no expected difference between rates to segregate to different surfaces. Lastly, we predict that graphite formation will be more favorable on C-covered Fe(110) than C-covered Fe(100).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number045402
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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