Crystal Structure Prediction by Joint Equivariant Diffusion

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Rui Jiao, Wenbing Huang, Peijia Lin, Jiaqi Han, Pin Chen, Yutong Lu, Yang Liu


Crystal Structure Prediction (CSP) is crucial in various scientific disciplines. While CSP can be addressed by employing currently-prevailing generative models (e.g. diffusion models), this task encounters unique challenges owing to the symmetric geometry of crystal structures---the invariance of translation, rotation, and periodicity. To incorporate the above symmetries, this paper proposes DiffCSP, a novel diffusion model to learn the structure distribution from stable crystals. To be specific, DiffCSP jointly generates the lattice and atom coordinates for each crystal by employing a periodic-E(3)-equivariant denoising model, to better model the crystal geometry. Notably, different from related equivariant generative approaches, DiffCSP leverages fractional coordinates other than Cartesian coordinates to represent crystals, remarkably promoting the diffusion and the generation process of atom positions. Extensive experiments verify that our DiffCSP remarkably outperforms existing CSP methods, with a much lower computation cost in contrast to DFT-based methods. Moreover, the superiority of DiffCSP is still observed when it is extended for ab initio crystal generation.