A Physics-Infused Deep Learning Model for the Prediction of Refractive Indices and Its Use for the Large-Scale Screening of Organic Compound Space

We present a multitask, physics-infused deep learning model to accurately and efficiently predict refractive indices (RIs) of organic molecules, and we apply it to a library of 1.5 million compounds. We show that it outperforms earlier machine learning models by a significant margin, and that incorporating known physics into data-derived models provides valuable guardrails. Using a transfer learning approach, we augment the model to reproduce results consistent with higher-level computational chemistry training data, but with a considerably reduced number of corresponding calculations. Prediction errors of machine learning models are typically smallest for commonly observed target property values, consistent with the distribution of the training data. However, since our goal is to identify candidates with unusually large RI values, we propose a strategy to boost the performance of our model in the remoter areas of the RI distribution: We bias the model with respect to the under-represented classes of molecules that have values in the high-RI regime. By adopting a metric popular in web search engines, we evaluate our effectiveness in ranking top candidates. We confirm that the models developed in this study can reliably predict the RIs of the top 1,000 compounds, and are thus able to capture their ranking. We believe that this is the first study to develop a data-derived model that ensures the reliability of RI predictions by model augmentation in the extrapolation region on such a large scale. These results underscore the tremendous potential of machine learning in facilitating molecular (hyper)screening approaches on a massive scale and in accelerating the discovery of new compounds and materials, such as organic molecules with high-RI for applications in opto-electronics.