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Machine learning for the structure–energy–property landscapes of molecular crystals

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Abstract

Molecular crystals play an important role in several fields of science and technology. They frequently crystallize in different polymorphs with substantially different physical properties. To help guide the synthesis of candidate materials, atomic-scale modelling can be used to enumerate the stable polymorphs and to predict their properties, as well as to propose heuristic rules to rationalize the correlations between crystal structure and materials properties. Here we show how a recently-developed machine-learning (ML) framework can be used to achieve inexpensive and accurate predictions of the stability and properties of polymorphs, and a data-driven classification that is less biased and more flexible than typical heuristic rules. We discuss, as examples, the lattice energy and property landscapes of pentacene and two azapentacene isomers that are of interest as organic semiconductor materials. We show that we can estimate force field or DFT lattice energies with sub-kJ mol−1 accuracy, using only a few hundred reference configurations, and reduce by a factor of ten the computational effort needed to predict charge mobility in the crystal structures. The automatic structural classification of the polymorphs reveals a more detailed picture of molecular packing than that provided by conventional heuristics, and helps disentangle the role of hydrogen bonded and π-stacking interactions in determining molecular self-assembly. This observation demonstrates that ML is not just a black-box scheme to interpolate between reference calculations, but can also be used as a tool to gain intuitive insights into structure–property relations in molecular crystal engineering.

Graphical abstract: Machine learning for the structure–energy–property landscapes of molecular crystals

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Publication details

The article was received on 27 Oct 2017, accepted on 11 Dec 2017 and first published on 12 Dec 2017


Article type: Edge Article
DOI: 10.1039/C7SC04665K
Citation: Chem. Sci., 2018, Advance Article
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY-NC license
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    Machine learning for the structure–energy–property landscapes of molecular crystals

    F. Musil, S. De, J. Yang, J. E. Campbell, G. M. Day and M. Ceriotti, Chem. Sci., 2018, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7SC04665K

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