Traversing the potential energy surface by eigenvector-following: applications to global optimisation and the structural transformations of clusters

Jonathan P. K. Doye and David J. Wales

Z. Phys. D, 40, 194-197 (1997)


We have developed a method to search potential energy surfaces which avoids some of the difficulties associated with trapping in local minima. Steps are directly taken between minima using eigenvector-following. Exploration of this space by low temperature Metropolis Monte Carlo is a useful global optimisation tool. This method successfully finds the lowest energy icosahedral minima of Lennard-Jones clusters from random starting configurations, but cannot find the global minimum in a reasonable time for difficult cases such as the 38-atom Lennard-Jones cluster where the face-centred-cubic truncated octahedron is lowest in energy. However by performing searches at higher temperatures, we have found a pathway between the truncated octahedron and the lowest energy icosahedral minima. Such a pathway may be illustrative of some of the structural transformations that are observed for supported metal clusters by electron microscopy.

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