crystal structure
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Minerals ◽  
2022 ◽  
Vol 12 (1) ◽  
pp. 98
Jordi Ibáñez-Insa

The crystal structures of newly found minerals are routinely determined using single-crystal techniques. However, many rare minerals usually form micrometer-sized aggregates that are difficult to study with conventional structural methods. This is the case for numerous platinum-group minerals (PGMs) such as, for instance, zaccariniite (RhNiAs), the crystal structure of which was first obtained by studying synthetic samples. The aim of the present work is to explore the usefulness of USPEX, a powerful crystal structure prediction method, as an alternative means of determining the crystal structure of minerals such as zaccariniite, with a relatively simple crystal structure and chemical formula. We show that fixed composition USPEX searches with a variable number of formula units, using the ideal formula of the mineral as the only starting point, successfully predict the tetragonal structure of a mineral. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations can then be performed in order to more tightly relax the structure of the mineral and calculate different fundamental properties, such as the frequency of zone-center Raman-active phonons, or even their pressure behavior. These theoretical data can be subsequently compared to experimental results, which, in the case of newly found minerals, would allow one to confirm the correctness of the crystal structure predicted by the USPEX code.

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