Efficient perturbation-tracking method for directly probing the spectral phonon properties from molecular dynamics simulations

ZX Zheng and Y Li and X Chen and YP Chen, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 102, 053311 (2020).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.102.053311

Existing methods for directly extracting the spectral phonon properties from molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, like the normal mode analysis (NMA) and spectral energy density analysis, all require a very long simulation time to produce reliable results with good convergence. So far, these methods are mainly applied in studies using small systems and with empirical potentials, as the heavy computational load has greatly hindered their further applications. Here we propose a perturbation- tracking (PT) method for directly probing the mode-wise phonon anharmonic frequencies and lifetimes. We show that results obtained from our method are in excellent agreement with those from the conventional NMA approach, using Si as the model material system. Comparing with the NMA approach, the PT method offers a greater accuracy and significant improvement of efficiency. It takes an average of two orders of magnitude and up to three orders of magnitude less simulation time to obtain the same lifetime result of a phonon mode with intermediate to high accuracy. Meanwhile, our method preserves all the dynamics of probed phonon mode from a particular state, which means it is capable of studying the transient thermal transport processes in a nonequilibrium system. Besides the exceptional efficiency, our method also comes with freedom to choose to probe only those modes of interest. This makes it ideal for use with large systems and in computationally demanding applications, such as ab initio MD simulations. Moreover, the PT method we propose here is very straightforward and easy to implement.

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