Atomic structure generation from reconstructing structural fingerprints

27 Jul 2022  ·  Victor Fung, Shuyi Jia, Jiaxin Zhang, Sirui Bi, Junqi Yin, P. Ganesh ·

Data-driven machine learning methods have the potential to dramatically accelerate the rate of materials design over conventional human-guided approaches. These methods would help identify or, in the case of generative models, even create novel crystal structures of materials with a set of specified functional properties to then be synthesized or isolated in the laboratory. For crystal structure generation, a key bottleneck lies in developing suitable atomic structure fingerprints or representations for the machine learning model, analogous to the graph-based or SMILES representations used in molecular generation. However, finding data-efficient representations that are invariant to translations, rotations, and permutations, while remaining invertible to the Cartesian atomic coordinates remains an ongoing challenge. Here, we propose an alternative approach to this problem by taking existing non-invertible representations with the desired invariances and developing an algorithm to reconstruct the atomic coordinates through gradient-based optimization using automatic differentiation. This can then be coupled to a generative machine learning model which generates new materials within the representation space, rather than in the data-inefficient Cartesian space. In this work, we implement this end-to-end structure generation approach using atom-centered symmetry functions as the representation and conditional variational autoencoders as the generative model. We are able to successfully generate novel and valid atomic structures of sub-nanometer Pt nanoparticles as a proof of concept. Furthermore, this method can be readily extended to any suitable structural representation, thereby providing a powerful, generalizable framework towards structure-based generation.

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