# First-Principles Study of High-Pressure Phase Stability and Electron Properties of Be-P Compounds

^{1}

^{2}

^{3}

^{4}

^{*}

## Abstract

**:**

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd structure, we identify two novel compounds of Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m and Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m. It should be noted that the Be-P compounds are predicted to be energetically unfavorable above 40 GPa. As can be seen, interesting structures may be experimentally synthesizable at modest pressure. Our results indicate that at 33.2 GPa, the most stable ambient-pressure tetragonal Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m transitions to the monoclinic Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m structure. Moreover, the predicted Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m and Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m phases are energetically favored compared with the Be

_{3}P

_{2}-Ia-3 structure synthesized experimentally. Electronic structure calculations reveal that BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd, Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m, and Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m are all semiconductors with a narrow band gap. The present findings offer insight and guidance for exploration toward further fundamental understanding and potential applications in the semiconductor field.

## 1. Introduction

_{3}P

_{2}, as a II–V group compound, has been investigated by first principles. This compound has a straight bandgap of 1.73 eV, according to researchers [14]. There is ongoing debate over the stoichiometric composition of Ca

_{3}P

_{2}, and an experimental study on the thermodynamic properties of this compound has been published [15].

_{3}P

_{2}[20,21]. Regarding the tetragonal structure of Be

_{3}P

_{2}, based on structural refinements of X-ray and neutron diffraction data, Elmaslout reported lattice constants and structure factors [22]. According to Carvalho et al., Be

_{3}P

_{2}microcrystals arise in Be-doped phosphorus-based semiconductor compounds generated by CBE (chemical beam epitaxy) in Be-rich environments and at temperatures over 500 °C [23]. Nevertheless, for semiconductor applications, high pressure phases are paramount. More than 90 percent of the matter in nature is under high pressure. As the pressure increases, the distance between atoms or molecules in condensed matter will gradually decrease, leading to an increase in the number of electron orbitals overlapping between adjacent atoms, which often leads to changes in the physical properties of the material itself. As a result, it is of the utmost importance to perform a thorough investigation of the crystal structure with varied beryllium phosphide stoichiometries and to explore the associated bonding properties under pressure.

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd and Be

_{3}P

_{2}-Ia-3 structures have been reported. In particular, for Be

_{3}P

_{2}at ambient pressure, we predict a more favorable Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m tetragonal structure than the experimentally synthesized structure of Be

_{3}P

_{2}-Ia-3. On the contrary, it can be discovered from the analysis of the calculation results that Be

_{2}P, BeP, and BeP

_{3}are predicted to dissociate into Be and P under the pressure in our scheme. In the subsequent work, we provide a detailed discussion of the methods of our calculations and the results obtained, including structural parameters, electronic band structure, density of states (DOS), and bonding character of the beryllium phosphide systems. Our results are of great significance for the further study of the structures and properties of Be-P system under high pressures.

## 2. Computational Details

_{x}(x = 1/2, 2/3, and 1–3) compounds under the pressure range of 0–100 GPa was carried out utilizing the CALYPSO code’’s particle swarm optimization methodology [24,25,26]. Several recent effective uses of this technology include structure predictions on various crystalline systems, as well as determining stable or metastable structures based on chemical composition [27,28,29,30]. The exchange-correlation potentials were handled using the generalized gradient approximation (GGA) of Perdew–Burke–Ernzerh (PBE) [31,32]. The underlying optimizations were carried out utilizing the Vienna ab initio simulation (VASP) 5.4.1 software [33,34] and projector-augmented plane wave (PAW) [35] potentials with a 600 eV energy cutoff. The valence states of the Be and P potentials are 2s

^{2}and 3s

^{2}3p

^{3}, respectively. We employed the Monkhorst-Pack approach for the Brillouin region integral and tested the convergence of the ground state computations using consistently increasing k-point gridding for the considered structures. In order to obtain total energy astringency below 1 meV/atom, Monkhorst-Pack k-point grid is selected as 2π × 0.025 Å

^{−1}[36,37]. Phonon dispersion curves are generated using a finite displacement approach in the PHONOPY program [38] to verify that the structures in the Be-P system are dynamically stable. The projector augmented wave (PAW) pseudopotential employing PBE and the band structures of Be-P phases are computed using the Heyd–Scuseria–Ernzerhof (HSE) hybrid functional, in order to evade the innate weakness of GGA when handling the band structures of semiconducting materials [39].

## 3. Results

#### 3.1. Crystal Structure

_{x}(x = 1/2, 2/3, and 1–3) in the range from 0 to 100 GPa. Then, the structures’ relative energetic stabilities are determined by calculating the formation enthalpy (ΔH

_{f}) with respect to elementary Be and P solids using the following formula: ΔH

_{f}= [H(BeP

_{x}) − H(Be) − xH(P)]/(x + 1). Here, H(BeP

_{x}) represents the enthalpy of the predicted compound and H(Be) and H(P) express the enthalpy of elemental Be and P, respectively. ΔH

_{f}is the computed formation enthalpy for the energetically advantageous beryllium phosphides. Figure 1 describes the enthalpies of formation of the predicted structure under varied pressures. For reference, the elemental Be solid with P6

_{3}/mmc symmetry, within their respective stable pressure range and the hexagonal, simple cubic, and triclinic structures for P, were used. The ΔH

_{f}for the Be-P compounds was calculated only for the lowest energy obtained structures of each stoichiometry. A Be-P compound was designated to be “stable” (in comparison with the solid elements) only when the lowest formation enthalpy is negative, while a designated “metastable” system was one discovered above the convex hulls. That is to say, it ΔH

_{f}value was smaller than the sum of the two elemental products′ ΔH

_{f}values. A given compound is stable if it has a positive enthalpy of decomposition when converted into other compounds, as described by the convex hulls. In ambient conditions, it is not difficult to discover that only Be

_{3}P

_{2}and BeP

_{2}compounds are stable. In contrast, the calculations show that BeP

_{x}(x = 1/2, 2/3, and 1–3) are unstable over 40 GPa. Subsequently, we shine a spotlight on the stable compounds.

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m and BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd are stable compositions at ambient pressure. Then, one more new stoichiometric Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m becomes stable at 33.2 GPa. This finding for BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd is consistent with a previous study [40]. Interestingly, for Be

_{3}P

_{2}at ambient pressure, the predicted Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m tetragonal structure is the most stable structure that has not been experimentally synthesized at ambient pressure. Moreover, the enthalpy of Be

_{3}P

_{2}-Ia-3 synthesized by experiment [18,19] has higher energy than our predicted structures of Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m, and even higher energy than the Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m phase under high pressure. To explore the phase behavior of Be

_{3}P

_{2}and BeP

_{2}under high pressure, we investigate all the structures in the pressure range.

_{3}P

_{2}and BeP

_{2}. In order to describe a phase transition under high pressure, we list all structures for 0–100 GPa, including the metastable structures. For Be

_{3}P

_{2}, at ambient pressure, the lattice parameters of Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m are a = b = 5.802 Å, c = 3.830 Å (Figure 3a), which has tetragonal primitive symmetry. In the unit cell, six Be atoms occupy the Wyckoff 4e (0.639, 0.139, 0.247) and 2b (0.500, 0.500, 0.500) sites, and four P atoms are located in the 4e (0.700, 0.270, 0.760) sites. Each Be atom is connected with four P atoms forming a tetrahedron with Be-P distances of 2.22 Å. For the purpose of identifying the sequence of phase transformation for Be

_{3}P

_{2}, the structures synthesized in experiments must be taken into consideration. Moreover, the calculated lattice parameters of Be

_{3}P

_{2}-Ia-3 are a = b = c = 10.193 Å at 0 GPa, which is in good agreement with the theoretical (10.19 Å [16,17]) and experimental (10.15 Å [18,19]) values. However, we predicted the structure Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m to have lower energy. The predicted structure of Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m is easier to synthesize by experiment due to its lower formation enthalpy.

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m transforms into a monoclinic Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m structure, with lattice parameters of a = 5.624 Å, b = 3.283 Å, and c = 5.618 Å (Figure 3b). The volume of the Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m structure is 98.64 Å

^{3}, which demonstrates that the volume decreases by about 23.6% with increasing pressure. Six Be atoms occupy the Wyckoff 4i (0.371, 0.000, 0.114) and 2d (0.000, 0.500, 0.500) sites, and four P atoms lie in the 4i (0.240, 0.000, 0.723) sites in the unit cell. Four Be atoms are coordinated to four P atoms with a Be-P distance of 2.080 Å and two Be atoms are coordinated to six P atoms with a Be-P distance of 2.232 Å. As the pressure increases, three metastable structures, with space groups Ibam (Figure 3c), Cmcm (Figure 3d), and C2/m (Figure 3e) at 81.7 GPa, 82.7 GPa, and 90.4 GPa, have been uncovered. For the BeP

_{2}phase, at ambient pressure, the optimized structure of BeP

_{2}has a tetragonal I4

_{1}/amd structure, which is agreement with the reported theoretical data [40] in Figure 3f, with lattice constants of a = b = 3.582 Å and c = 14.994 Å. The volume of the BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd structure is 192.34 Å

^{3}, which indicates that the volume increases by about 49.1% compared with the predicted Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m phase. Four Be atoms occupy the Wyckoff 4a (0.500, −0.500, 0.500) sites, and eight P atoms lie in the 8e (1.000, 0.000, 0.672) sites with four formula units per unit cell. The lattice constant of the c axis is much larger than the a axis and b axis. Each Be atom is coordinated to four P atoms forming a tetrahedron with the Be-P distance of 2.137 Å. Further, these tetrahedrons are interlinked by sharing vertex P atoms that comprise chains with a distance between P and P atoms of 2.283 Å. At higher pressure, BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd undergoes the phase transition sequence of I4

_{1}/amd → P4

_{3}2

_{1}2 → Imma. However, the two novel phases of BeP

_{2}-P4

_{3}2

_{1}2 and BeP

_{2}-Imma are metastable structures under high pressure.

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m, Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m, and BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd phases in the pressure range of 0–100 GPa are described in Figure 4. The novel phases are dynamically stable in their accessible pressures since no imaginary vibrational modes are observed in the Brillouin zone. For Be

_{3}P

_{2}, at ambient pressure, the maximum optical branch frequency of Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m occurs at 18.8 THz. Under high pressure, the maximum optical branch frequency increases to 26.3 THz in the Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m phase. For BeP

_{2}, the maximum optical branch frequency of BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd is 20 THz at 0 GPa. The Be atoms are observed to contribute to all medium and high frequencies (10.2–18.8 THz for Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m, 14.2–26.3 THz for Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m, and 16.2–20 THz for BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd). Moreover, the P atoms contribute to the low-frequency region (0–10.2 THz for Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m, 0–14.2 THz for Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m, and 0–13.9 THz for BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd). The relative atomic mass of the Be atom is smaller than that of the P atom, which explains the rationality of the contribution range of Be and P atoms.

#### 3.2. Electronic Properties

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m, Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m, and BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd, we have calculated the electronic band structures and projected density of states (PDOS). As we know, the PBE function underestimates the band gap, so we use the hybrid HSE03 functional to get more accurate band structures. The results are presented in Figure 5; in the band structures, the dotted (red) and solid (black) lines indicate the results obtained using the PBE and HSE functions, respectively. The calculations show that the Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m structure is a semiconductor with a direct bandgap of 0.394 eV at ambient pressure (Figure 5a). With increasing pressure, the bandgap of the Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m phase decreases to 0.302 eV at 33.2 GPa. Unlike in the Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m phase, the Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m phase is an indirect bandgap semiconductor, since the conduction band minimum and valence band maximum are located at the Γ point and between the Γ and Y points in the Brillouin zone, respectively (Figure 5b). For the BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd phase, it is a semiconductor with a direct bandgap of 0.590 eV at ambient pressure, which is wider than that of the Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m phase. All three phases are excellent semiconductor materials.

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m and Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m phases, the electronic DOS at the Fermi level consists primarily of the p states of Be and P atoms with moderate mixing with the s states of the Be and P atoms. For the results, the orbitals of Be-2s and P-3p as well as Be-2p and P-3s are hybridized formed by covalent bonding. At the Fermi level, the peak value of DOS in the Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m structure is higher than that of the Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m phase since the symmetry of Be

_{3}P

_{2}decreases with increasing pressure. For the BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd phase, the P-3s states are located at base of the conduction band, as well as the P-3p and Be-2p states, which make important contributions near the Fermi level. The DOS of these compounds once again proves their semiconducting properties.

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m, Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m, and BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd in Figure 6. Large ELF values (>0.5) indicate a strong tendency for electron pairing, manifesting the production of covalent bonds, whereas tiny ELF values (<0.5) indicate non/less electron localization, revealing the existence of ionic bonds between atoms [41]. For the three novel phases, the ELF maximum, which is forcefully towards the P atoms, shows the polar covalent bonding mutual effect of Be and P atoms. In Figure 6c, the strong electron localization between P and P atoms indicates covalent bonding shown in the polymeric chains. At the same time, the layered structure of BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd can also be proved from the ELF.

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m, Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m, and BeP

_{2}–I4

_{1}/amd structures. Our calculations showed that P atoms gained 2.305e in Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m and 2.344e in Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m. By contrast, P atoms merely acquired a minor value of 0.765e for BeP

_{2}–I4

_{1}/amd. Generally, the charge transfer is not an integer and the number of charge transfers is significantly less than the normal integer value. The non-integer charge is calculated from its zero-flux surface due to the space in which the charge is separated. Therefore, the chemical valence of Be and P atoms is +2 and −3 in the predicted two phases of Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m and Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m, respectively. For the BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd phase, Bader analysis reveals the chemical valence of Be and P atoms is +2 and −1. The various chemical valences of P are determined by the valence electron configuration of 3s

^{2}3p

^{3}. The calculation results of Bader charge transfer support the above analysis of electron local function and structure.

## 4. Conclusions

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd structure has been resoundingly duplicated at ambient pressure, confirming the dependability of our calculations regarding binary Be-P compounds. We find that the Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m and BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd structures exist at ambient pressure, as well as a new phase that is Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m at 33.2 GPa. The predicted structures, except for the aforementioned three structures, are unsteady within the range of pressures we investigated. The theoretical phonon dispersion curves prove the dynamical stability of existing expected structures. Electronic structure calculations show that predicted novel structures of Be

_{3}P

_{2}-P-42

_{1}m, Be

_{3}P

_{2}-C2/m, and BeP

_{2}-I4

_{1}/amd are all excellent semiconductor materials, which have bandgaps of 0.394 eV, 0.302 eV, and 0.590 eV, respectively. Moreover, the charge accumulation along the bonding directions between Be and P is an indication of polar covalent bonding. The Bader charge analysis illustrates those electrons obviously transferred from Be to P atoms in these newfangled phases and indicates that the chemical valence of P atom varies with the stoichiometries. Our findings should stimulate further theoretical and experimental research into the high-pressure development of crystal structures and electrical characteristics in Be-P systems.

## Author Contributions

## Funding

## Institutional Review Board Statement

## Informed Consent Statement

## Data Availability Statement

## Conflicts of Interest

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**Figure 1.**(color online). In relation to elemental beryllium and phosphorus solids, relative enthalpies of creation of the Be−P phase. Solid lines connect the stable phases to form convex shells (solid stars). Open stars indicate the unstable/meta stable phases.

**Figure 2.**(color online). Be−P compounds composition-pressure phase graph. The metallic and insulating phases are represented by blue and red, respectively. Stable (metastable) phases are represented by solid (dashed) lines.

**Figure 3.**(color online). Crystal structures of the predicted Be−P system for (

**a**) Be

_{3}P

_{2}−P−42

_{1}m, (

**b**) Be

_{3}P

_{2}−C2/m, (

**c**) Be

_{3}P

_{2}−Ibam, (

**d**) Be

_{3}P

_{2}−Cmcm, (

**e**) Be

_{3}P

_{2}−C2/m, (

**f**) BeP

_{2}−I4

_{1}/amd, (

**g**) BeP

_{2}−P4

_{3}2

_{1}2, and (

**h**) BeP

_{2}−Imma. Be atoms and P atoms are represented by the purple and blue spheres, respectively. Inside the red circular region, the structures are stable.

**Figure 4.**(color online). Phonon−dispersion contours and PHDOS projected on Be and P atoms for (

**a**) Be

_{3}P

_{2}−P−42

_{1}m at 0 GPa, (

**b**) Be

_{3}P

_{2}−C2/m at 33.2 GPa, and (

**c**) BeP

_{2}−I4

_{1}/amd at 0 GPa.

**Figure 5.**(color online). Electronic band structures and PDOS for (

**a**) Be

_{3}P

_{2}−P−42

_{1}m at 0 GPa, (

**b**) Be

_{3}P

_{2}−C2/m at 33.2 GPa, and (

**c**) BeP

_{2}−I4

_{1}/amd at 0 GPa. Note that zero energy is on the Fermi level. The dotted (red) and solid (black) lines represent results obtained using the PBE and HSE functional, respectively.

**Figure 6.**(color online). The ELF graphs for the structures of (

**a**) Be

_{3}P

_{2}−P−42

_{1}m, (

**b**) Be

_{3}P

_{2}−C2/m, and (

**c**) BeP

_{2}−I4

_{1}/amd with isosurface of 0.8.

**Table 1.**The Bader charge transfer of Be

_{3}P

_{2}−P−42

_{1}m, Be

_{3}P

_{2}−C2/m, and BeP

_{2}−I4

_{1}/amd.

Phase | Pressure (GPa) | Atom | Number | Charge Value (e) | δ(e) |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

Be_{3}P_{2}-P-42_{1}m | 0 GPa | Be1 | 4 | 0.466 | −1.534 |

- | - | Be2 | 2 | 0.457 | −1.543 |

- | - | P1 | 4 | 7.305 | 2.305 |

Be_{3}P_{2}-C2/m | 33.2 GPa | Be1 | 4 | 0.452 | −1.548 |

- | - | Be2 | 2 | 0.408 | −1.592 |

- | - | P1 | 4 | 7.344 | 2.344 |

BeP_{2}-I4_{1}/amd | 0 GPa | Be1 | 4 | 0.470 | −1.530 |

- | - | P1 | 8 | 5.765 | 0.765 |

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## Share and Cite

**MDPI and ACS Style**

Liu, H.; Dan, Y.; Zhang, A.; Liu, S.; Yue, J.; Li, J.; Ma, X.; Huang, Y.; Liu, Y.; Cui, T. First-Principles Study of High-Pressure Phase Stability and Electron Properties of Be-P Compounds. *Materials* **2022**, *15*, 1255.
https://doi.org/10.3390/ma15031255

**AMA Style**

Liu H, Dan Y, Zhang A, Liu S, Yue J, Li J, Ma X, Huang Y, Liu Y, Cui T. First-Principles Study of High-Pressure Phase Stability and Electron Properties of Be-P Compounds. *Materials*. 2022; 15(3):1255.
https://doi.org/10.3390/ma15031255

**Chicago/Turabian Style**

Liu, Han, Yaqian Dan, Ao Zhang, Siyuan Liu, Jincheng Yue, Junda Li, Xuejiao Ma, Yanping Huang, Yanhui Liu, and Tian Cui. 2022. "First-Principles Study of High-Pressure Phase Stability and Electron Properties of Be-P Compounds" *Materials* 15, no. 3: 1255.
https://doi.org/10.3390/ma15031255