journal article

Influence of near-surface oxide layers on TiFe hydrogenation - Mechanistic insights and implications for hydrogen storage applications


The inevitable formation of passivating oxide films on the surface of the TiFe intermetallic compound limits its performance as a stationary hydrogen storage material. Extensive experimental efforts have been dedicated to the activation of TiFe, i.e. oxide layer removal prior to utilization for hydrogen storage. However, development of an efficient activation protocol necessitates a fundamental understanding of the composition and structure of the air-exposed surface and its interaction with hydrogen, which is currently absent. Therefore, in this study we explored the growth and nature of oxide films on the most exposed TiFe surface (110) in depth using static and dynamic first-principles methods. We identified the lowest energy structures for six oxygen coverages up to approximately 1.12 nm of thickness with a global optimization method and studied the temperature effects and structural evolution of the oxide phases in detail via ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD). Based on structural similarity and coordination analysis, motifs for TiO2 and TiFeO3 as well as Ti(FeO2)x (x = 2, 3 or 5) phases were identified. On evaluating the interaction of the oxidized surface with hydrogen, a minimal energy barrier of 0.172 eV was predicted for H2 dissociation while H migration from the top of the oxidized surface to the bulk TiFe was limited by several high-lying energy barriers above 1.4 eV. Our mechanistic insights will prove themselves valuable for informed designs towards new activation methods of TiFe and related systems as hydrogen storage materials.
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