A general-purpose machine-learning force field for bulk and nanostructured phosphorus

VL Deringer and MA Caro and G Csanyi, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 11, 5461 (2020).

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-19168-z

Elemental phosphorus is attracting growing interest across fundamental and applied fields of research. However, atomistic simulations of phosphorus have remained an outstanding challenge. Here, we show that a universally applicable force field for phosphorus can be created by machine learning (ML) from a suitably chosen ensemble of quantum- mechanical results. Our model is fitted to density-functional theory plus many-body dispersion (DFT+MBD) data; its accuracy is demonstrated for the exfoliation of black and violet phosphorus (yielding monolayers of "phosphorene" and "hittorfene"); its transferability is shown for the transition between the molecular and network liquid phases. An application to a phosphorene nanoribbon on an experimentally relevant length scale exemplifies the power of accurate and flexible ML-driven force fields for next-generation materials modelling. The methodology promises new insights into phosphorus as well as other structurally complex, e.g., layered solids that are relevant in diverse areas of chemistry, physics, and materials science. Atomistic simulations of phosphorus represent a challenge due to the element's highly diverse allotropic structures. Here the authors propose a general-purpose machine-learning force field for elemental phosphorus, which can describe a broad range of relevant bulk and nanostructured allotropes.

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