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  1. A large body of work has demonstrated that parameterized artificial neural networks (ANNs) can efficiently describe ground states of numerous interesting quantum many-body Hamiltonians. However, the standard variational algorithms used to update or train the ANN parameters can get trapped in local minima, especially for frustrated systems and even if the representation is sufficiently expressive. We propose a parallel tempering method that facilitates escape from such local minima. This methods involves training multiple ANNs independently, with each simulation governed by a Hamiltonian with a different driver strength, in analogy to quantum parallel tempering, and it incorporates an update step into the training that allows for the exchange of neighboring ANN configurations. We study instances from two classes of Hamiltonians to demonstrate the utility of our approach using Restricted Boltzmann Machines as our parameterized ANN. The first instance is based on a permutation-invariant Hamiltonian whose landscape stymies the standard training algorithm by drawing it increasingly to a false local minimum. The second instance is four hydrogen atoms arranged in a rectangle, which is an instance of the second quantized electronic structure Hamiltonian discretized using Gaussian basis functions. We study this problem in a minimal basis set, which exhibits false minima that can trap the standard variational algorithm despite the problem’s small size. We show that augmenting the training with quantum parallel tempering becomes useful to finding good approximations to the ground states of these problem instances.

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  2. Oxides of p-block metals (e.g., indium oxide) and semimetals (e.g., antimony oxide) are of broad practical interest as transparent conductors and light absorbers for solar photoconversion due to the tunability of their electronic conductivity and optical absorption. Comparatively, these oxides have found limited applications in solar-to-hydrogen photocatalysis primarily due to their high electronegativity, which impedes electron transfer for converting protons into molecular hydrogen. We have shown recently that inserting s-block metal cations into p-block oxides is effective at lowering electronegativities while affording further control of band gaps. Here, we explain the origins of this dual tunability by demonstrating the mediator role of s-block metal cations in modulating orbital hybridization while not contributing to frontier electronic states. From this result, we carry out a comprehensive computational study of 109 ternary oxides of s- and p-block metal elements as candidate photocatalysts for solar hydrogen generation. We downselect the most desirable materials using band gaps and band edges obtained from Hubbard-corrected density-functional theory with Hubbard parameters computed entirely from first principles, evaluate the stability of these oxides in aqueous conditions, and characterize experimentally four of the remaining materials, synthesized with high phase uniformity, to assess the accuracy of computational predictions. We thus propose seven oxide semiconductors, including CsIn3O5, Sr2In2O5, and KSbO2 which, to the extent of our literature review, have not been previously considered as water-splitting photocatalysts. 
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    The production of hydrogen fuels, via water splitting, is of practical relevance for meeting global energy needs and mitigating the environmental consequences of fossil-fuel-based transportation. Water photoelectrolysis has been proposed as a viable approach for generating hydrogen, provided that stable and inexpensive photocatalysts with conversion efficiencies over 10% can be discovered, synthesized at scale, and successfully deployed (Pinaud et al. , Energy Environ. Sci. , 2013, 6 , 1983). While a number of first-principles studies have focused on the data-driven discovery of photocatalysts, in the absence of systematic experimental validation, the success rate of these predictions may be limited. We address this problem by developing a screening procedure with co-validation between experiment and theory to expedite the synthesis, characterization, and testing of the computationally predicted, most desirable materials. Starting with 70 150 compounds in the Materials Project database, the proposed protocol yielded 71 candidate photocatalysts, 11 of which were synthesized as single-phase materials. Experiments confirmed hydrogen generation and favorable band alignment for 6 of the 11 compounds, with the most promising ones belonging to the families of alkali and alkaline-earth indates and orthoplumbates. This study shows the accuracy of a nonempirical, Hubbard-corrected density-functional theory method to predict band gaps and band offsets at a fraction of the computational cost of hybrid functionals, and outlines an effective strategy to identify photocatalysts for solar hydrogen generation. 
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