A van der Waals density functional theory study of poly(vinylidene difluoride) crystalline phases

Abstract

Ferroelectric polymers, such as poly(vinylidene difluoride) (PVDF), have many potential applications in flexible electronic devices. PVDF has six experimentally observed polymorphs, three of which are ferroelectric. In this work we use density functional theory to investigate the structural properties, energetics and polarisation of the stable α-phase, its ferroelectric analogue, the δ-phase, and the β-phase, which has the best ferroelectric properties. The results from a variety of exchange and correlation functionals were compared and it was found that van der Waals (vdW) interactions have an important effect on the calculated crystal structures and energetics, with the vdW-DF functional giving the best agreement with experimental lattice parameters. The spontaneous polarisation was found to strongly correlate with the unit cell volumes, which depend on the functional used. While the relative phase energies were not strongly dependent on the functional, the cohesive energies were significantly underestimated using the PBE functional. The inclusion of vdW interactions is, therefore, important to obtain the correct lattice structures, polarisation and energetics of PVDF polymorphs.

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Correspondence to F. Pelizza or K. Johnston.

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Pelizza, F., Smith, B. & Johnston, K. A van der Waals density functional theory study of poly(vinylidene difluoride) crystalline phases. Eur. Phys. J. Spec. Top. 225, 1733–1742 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjst/e2016-60133-8

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