Order parameter and connectivity topology analysis of crystalline ceramics for nuclear waste immobilization

Adam Archer*, Henry R. Foxhall, Neil L. Allan, David S D Gunn, John H. Harding, Ilian T. Todorov, Karl P. Travis, John A. Purton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
425 Downloads (Pure)


We apply bond order and topological methods to the problem of analysing the results of radiation damage cascade simulations in ceramics. Both modified Steinhardt local order and connectivity topology analysis techniques provide results that are both translationally and rotationally invariant and which do not rely on a particular choice of a reference structure. We illustrate the methods with new analyses of molecular dynamics simulations of single cascades in the pyrochlores Gd2Ti2O7 and Gd2Zr2O7 similar to those reported previously (Todorov et al 2006 J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 18 2217). Results from the Steinhardt and topology analyses are consistent, while often providing complementary information, since the Steinhardt parameters are sensitive to changes in angular arrangement even when the overall topological connectivity is fixed. During the highly non-equilibrium conditions at the start of the cascade, both techniques reveal significant localized transient structural changes and variation in the cation connectivity. After a few picoseconds, the connectivity is largely fixed, while the order parameters continue to change. In the zirconate there is a shift to the anion disordered system while in the titanate there is substantial reversion and healing back to the parent pyrochlore structure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number485011
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Issue number48
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Accepted 13 October 2014 , Online publication, 7 November 2014.


  • molecular dynamics simulation
  • nuclear waste
  • pyrochlore
  • radiation damage
  • Steinhardt order parameters
  • topological analysis


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