Adaptive Exploration and Optimization of Materials Crystal Structures



A central problem of materials science is to determine whether a hypothetical material is stable without being synthesized, which is mathematically equivalent to a global optimization problem on a highly non-linear and multi-modal potential energy surface (PES). This optimization problem poses multiple outstanding challenges, including the exceedingly high dimensionality of the PES and that PES must be constructed from a reliable, sophisticated, parameters-free, and thus, very expensive computational method, for which density functional theory (DFT) is an example. DFT is a quantum mechanics based method that can predict, among other things, the total potential energy of a given configuration of atoms. DFT, while accurate, is computationally expensive. In this work, we propose a novel expansion-exploration-exploitation framework to find the global minimum of the PES. Starting from a few atomic configurations, this “known” space is expanded to construct a big candidate set. The expansion begins in a non-adaptive manner, where new configurations are added without considering their potential energy. A novel feature of this step is that it tends to generate a space-filling design without the knowledge of the boundaries of the domain space. If needed, the non-adaptive expansion of the space of configurations is followed by adaptive expansion, where “promising regions” of the domain space (those with low energy configurations) are further expanded. Once a candidate set of configurations is obtained, it is simultaneously explored and exploited using Bayesian optimization to find the global minimum. The methodology is demonstrated using a problem of finding the most stable crystal structure of Aluminum.
Date made available2023
PublisherCode Ocean

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