Evolutionary crystal structure prediction: discovering new minerals in the deep Earth

AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts 12/2006;


Experimental determination of crystal structures at high pressure is often extremely difficult; given this and the strengths of quantum-mechanical simulations, theory presents an attractive tool to investigate matter at extreme conditions. However, crystal structure prediction on the basis of just the chemical formula has long been considered a formidable or even insoluble problem. Solving it would enable structural studies of planetary materials at extreme conditions [1,2] and probe changing chemistry at high pressure, solve structures where experimental data are insufficient, and design new materials entirely on the computer (once the structure is known, it is relatively easy to predict many of its properties e.g., [3]). Recently, we addressed this problem and devised a new method based on an ab initio evolutionary algorithm, which we implemented in the USPEX code (Universal Structure Predictor: Evolutionary Xtallography, [4-6]). USPEX uses ab initio free energy as evaluation function and features local optimization and spatial heredity, as well as further operators such as mutation and permutation. At given P-T conditions, USPEX finds the stable structure and a set of robust metastable structures, using no experimental information except the chemical composition. This method has been widely tested and applied to solve a number of important problems. In this talk I will discuss some of the applications of this method to a number of interesting materials at high pressure (C, O, S, MgSiO3, CO2, CaCO3, MgCO3). 1. Oganov A.R. & Ono S. (2004). Theoretical and experimental evidence for a post-perovskite phase of MgSiO3 in Earth's D" layer. Nature 430, 445-448. 2. Oganov A.R., Ono S. (2005). The high pressure phase of alumina and implications for Earth's D" layer. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 102, 10828-10831. 3. Oganov A.R., Brodholt J.P., Price G.D. (2001). The elastic constants of MgSiO3 perovskite at pressures and temperatures of the Earth's mantle. Nature 411, 934-937. 4. Oganov A.R., Glass C.W., Ono S. (2006). High-pressure phases of CaCO3: crystal structure prediction and experiment. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 241, 95-103. 5. Oganov A.R. & Glass C.W. (2006). Crystal Structure Prediction using ab initio evolutionary techniques: principles and applications. J. Chem. Phys, 124, art. 244704. 6. Glass C.W., Oganov A.R. & Hansen N. (2006). USPEX - evolutionary crystal structure prediction. Comp. Phys. Comm., in press.

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