An effective structure prediction method for layered materials based on 2D particle swarm optimization algorithm

A structure prediction method for layered materials based on two-dimensional (2D) particle swarm optimization algorithm is developed. The relaxation of atoms in the perpendicular direction within a given range is allowed. Additional techniques including structural similarity determination, symmetry constraint enforcement, and discretization of structure constructions based on space gridding are implemented and demonstrated to significantly improve the global structural search efficiency. Our method is successful in predicting the structures of known 2D materials, including single layer and multi-layer graphene, 2D boron nitride (BN) compounds, and some quasi-2D group 6 metals(VIB) chalcogenides. Furthermore, by use of this method, we predict a new family of monolayered boron nitride structures with different chemical compositions. The first-principles electronic structure calculations reveal that the band gap of these N-rich BN systems can be tuned from 5.40 eV to 2.20 eV by adjusting the composition. (C) 2012 American Institute of Physics.