Multi-reward reinforcement learning based development of inter-atomic potential models for silica

A Koneru and HY Chan and S Manna and TD Loeffler and D Dhabal and AA Bertolazzo and V Molinero and SKRS Sankaranarayanan, NPJ COMPUTATIONAL MATERIALS, 9, 125 (2023).

DOI: 10.1038/s41524-023-01074-9

Silica is an abundant and technologically attractive material. Due to the structural complexities of silica polymorphs coupled with subtle differences in Si-O bonding characteristics, the development of accurate models to predict the structure, energetics and properties of silica polymorphs remain challenging. Current models for silica range from computationally efficient Buckingham formalisms (BKS, CHIK, Soules) to reactive (ReaxFF) and more recent machine-learned potentials that are flexible but computationally costly. Here, we introduce an improved formalism and parameterization of BKS model via a multireward reinforcement learning (RL) using an experimental training dataset. Our model concurrently captures the structure, energetics, density, equation of state, and elastic constants of quartz (equilibrium) as well as 20 other metastable silica polymorphs. We also assess its ability in capturing amorphous properties and highlight the limitations of the BKS- type functional forms in simultaneously capturing crystal and amorphous properties. We demonstrate ways to improve model flexibility and introduce a flexible formalism, machine-learned ML-BKS, that outperforms existing empirical models and is on-par with the recently developed 50 to 100 times more expensive Gaussian approximation potential (GAP) in capturing the experimental structure and properties of silica polymorphs and amorphous silica.

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