Size-Dependent Nucleation in Crystal Phase Transition from Machine Learning Metadynamics

PA Santos-Florez and H Yanxon and B Kang and YS Yao and Q Zhu, PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS, 129, 185701 (2022).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.129.185701

In this Letter, we present a framework that combines machine learning potential (MLP) and metadynamics to investigate solid-solid phase transition. Based on the spectral descriptors and neural networks regression, we develop a scalable MLP model to warrant an accurate interpolation of the energy surface where two phases coexist. Applying it to the simulation of B4-B1 phase transition of GaN under 50 GPa with different model sizes, we observe sequential change of the phase transition mechanism from collective modes to nucleation and growths. When the size is at or below 128 000 atoms, the nucleation and growth appear to follow a preferred direction. At larger sizes, the nuclei occur at multiple sites simultaneously and grow to microstructures by passing the critical size. The observed change of the atomistic mechanism manifests the importance of statistical sampling with large system size in phase transition modeling.

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