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Maximilian Amsler

Research Interests

  • Crystal structure prediction on various materials for applications in hydrogen storage, photovoltaics, superconductivity and more 
  • Investigations on stability and electronic properties of various nanoscale and molecular systems based on ab initio calculations 
  • Study of adsorption mechanisms of sample fragments on a tip-apex used in scanning force microscopy, surface reconstruction
  • High-pressure materials discovery

The minima hopping method

The minima hopping method is a structure prediction method currently implemented in the Minhocao package (Minima Hopping for Crystal Optimization) with boundary conditions for crystals, surfaces and molecules. The algorithm employs efficient moves on the potential energy (or enthalpy) surface by performing consecutive molecular dynamics escape steps and geometry relaxations. The initial velocities for the dynamics are aligned preferably along soft-mode directions to exploit the Bell-Evans-Polanyi principle in order to favor the escape to low-energy structures. 

Currently, Minhocao works together with the following software packages: Abinit, Quantum Espresso, BigDFT, VASP, CP2K, mopac, lammps, Tinker, DFTB+ and Siesta, but it can be coupled to any other code which evaluates energies, forces, and stresses.

The movie shows the evolution of a search for the ground state structure of the formaldehyde molecular crystal.


I got my BSc degree in Physics at the Basel University, Switzerland, in July 2007. For my MSc degree in Physics (2009) I joined Prof. Goedecker's group to perform theoretical research on silicon and NaCl nanostructures. During my PhD I developed methods for crystal structure prediction based on the minima hopping algorithm. Currently I am involved both in applications and development of ab initio methods in materials science.


Publications on google scholar