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Title: Moving beyond the constraints of chemistry via crystal structure discovery with isotropic multiwell pair potentials

The rigid constraints of chemistry—dictated by quantum mechanics and the discrete nature of the atom—limit the set of observable atomic crystal structures. What structures are possible in the absence of these constraints? Here, we systematically crystallize one-component systems of particles interacting with isotropic multiwell pair potentials. We investigate two tunable families of pairwise interaction potentials. Our simulations self-assemble a multitude of crystal structures ranging from basic lattices to complex networks. Sixteen of the structures have natural analogs spanning all coordination numbers found in inorganic chemistry. Fifteen more are hitherto unknown and occupy the space between covalent and metallic coordination environments. The discovered crystal structures constitute targets for self-assembly and expand our understanding of what a crystal structure can look like.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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Article No. e2024034118
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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