Quasi-combinatorial energy landscapes for nanoalloy structure optimisation
We formulate nanoalloy structure prediction as a mixed-variable optimisation problem, where the homotops can be associated with an effective, quasi-combinatorial energy landscape in permutation space. We survey this effective landscape for a representative set of binary systems modelled by the Gupta potential. In segregating systems with small lattice mismatch, we find that homotops have a relatively straightforward landscape with few local optima – a scenario well-suited for local (combinatorial) optimisation techniques that scale quadratically with system size. Combining these techniques with multiple local-neighbourhood structures yields a search for multiminima, and we demonstrate that generalised basin-hopping with a metropolis acceptance criterion in the space of multiminima can then be effective for global optimisation of binary and ternary nanoalloys.