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Molecular relaxation by reverse diffusion with time step prediction

Khaled Kahouli
Stefaan Simon Pierre Hessmann
Klaus-Robert Müller
Shinichi Nakajima
Stefan Gugler
Niklas Wolf Andreas Gebauer

April 16, 2024

Molecular relaxation, finding the equilibrium state of a non-equilibrium structure, is an essential component of computational chemistry to understand reactivity. Classical force field methods often rely on insufficient local energy minimization, while neural network force field models require large labeled datasets encompassing both equilibrium and non-equilibrium structures. As a remedy, we propose MoreRed, molecular relaxation by reverse diffusion, a conceptually novel and purely statistical approach where non-equilibrium structures are treated as noisy instances of their corresponding equilibrium states. To enable the denoising of arbitrarily noisy inputs via a generative diffusion model, we further introduce a novel diffusion time step predictor. Notably, MoreRed learns a simpler pseudo potential energy surface instead of the complex physical potential energy surface. It is trained on a significantly smaller, and thus computationally cheaper, dataset consisting of solely unlabeled equilibrium structures, avoiding the computation of non-equilibrium structures altogether. We compare MoreRed to classical force fields, equivariant neural network force fields trained on a large dataset of equilibrium and non-equilibrium data, as well as a semi-empirical tight-binding model. To assess this quantitatively, we evaluate the root-mean-square deviation between the found equilibrium structures and the reference equilibrium structures as well as their DFT energies.