Car-Parrinello Monitor for More Robust Born-Oppenheimer Molecular Dynamics

18 July 2019, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Born-Oppenheimer molecular dynamics (BOMD) is a promising simulation method for exploring the possible reaction pathways of a chemical system, but one significant challenge is the increased difficulty of converging the self-consistent field (SCF) calculation that often accompanies the breaking and forming of chemical bonds.

To address this challenge, we developed an enhancement to the BOMD simulation method called the Car-Parrinello monitor (CPMonitor) that uses Car-Parrinello molecular dynamics (CPMD) to recover from SCF convergence failures.

CPMonitor works by detecting SCF convergence failures in BOMD and switching to a CPMD Hamiltonian to propagate through the region of configuration space where the SCF calculation is unable to converge, then switching back to BOMD when good convergence behavior is re-established.

We present a series of simulation studies that use CPMonitor, including detailed studies of the thermodynamic and dynamical properties of simple systems, as well as ab initio nanoreactor simulations containing transition metal atoms that were previously not possible to simulate using standard BOMD methods.

Our studies show that CPMonitor can make BOMD simulations robust to SCF convergence difficulties and improve simulation performance and stability in reaction discovery applications.


Molecular dynamics
Extended Lagrangian
Quantum chemistry
Reaction discovery

Supplementary materials



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