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Exploring Librational Pathways with on-the-Fly Machine-Learning Force Fields: Methylammonium Molecules in MAPbX3 (X = I, Br, Cl) Perovskites

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posted on 2021-09-20, 13:39 authored by Menno Bokdam, Jonathan Lahnsteiner, D. D. Sarma
Two seemingly similar crystal structures of the low-temperature (∼100 K) MAPbX3 (X = I, Br, Cl) perovskites, but with different relative methylammonium (MA) ordering, have appeared as representatives of this orthorhombic phase. Distinguishing them by X-ray diffraction experiments is difficult, and conventional first-principles-based molecular dynamics approaches are often too computationally intensive to be feasible. Therefore, to determine the thermodynamically stable structure, we use a recently introduced on-the-fly machine-learning force field method, which reduces the computation time from years to days. The molecules exhibit a large degree of anharmonic motion depending on temperature: that is, rattling, twisting, and tumbling. We observe the crystal’s “librational pathways” while slowly heating it in isothermal–isobaric simulations. Marked differences in the thermal evolution of structural parameters allow us to determine the real structure of the system via a comparison with experimentally determined crystal structures.