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Learning the stable and metastable phase diagram to accelerate the discovery of metastable phases of boron


Balasubramanian, Karthik; Banik, Suvo; Manna, Sukriti; Srinivasan, Srilok; Sankaranarayanan, Subramanian K. R. S


Boron, an element of captivating chemical intricacy, has been surrounded by controversies ever since its discovery in 1808. The complexities of boron stem from its unique position between metals and insulators in the Periodic Table. Recent computational studies have shed light on some of the stable boron allotropes. However, the demand for multifunctionality necessitates the need to go beyond the stable phases into the realm of metastability and explore the potentially vast but elusive metastable phases of boron. Traditional search for stable phases of materials has focused on identifying materials with the lowest enthalpy. Here, we introduce a workflow that uses reinforcement learning coupled with decision trees, such as Monte Carlo tree search, to search for stable and metastable boron phases, with enthalpy as the objective. We discover new boron metastable phases and construct a phase diagram that locates their phase space (T, P) at different levels of metastability (G) from the ground state and provides useful information on the domains of relative stability of the various stable and metastable boron phases.