i-PI 2.0: A universal force engine for advanced molecular simulations

Venkat Kapil, Mariana Rossi, Ondrej Marsalek, Riccardo Petraglia, Yair Litman, Thomas Spura, Bingqing Cheng, Alice Cuzzocrea, Robert H. Meißner, David M. Wilkins, Benjamin A. Helfrecht, Przemysław Juda, Sébastien P. Bienvenue, Wei Fang, Jan Kessler, Igor Poltavsky, Steven Vandenbrande, Jelle Wieme, Clemence Corminboeuf, Thomas D. KühneDavid E. Manolopoulos, Thomas E. Markland, Jeremy O. Richardson, Alexandre Tkatchenko, Gareth A. Tribello, Veronique Van Speybroeck, Michele Ceriotti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

155 Citations (Scopus)
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Progress in the atomic-scale modeling of matter over the past decade has been tremendous. This progress has been brought about by improvements in methods for evaluating interatomic forces that work by either solving the electronic structure problem explicitly, or by computing accurate approximations of the solution and by the development of techniques that use the Born–Oppenheimer (BO) forces to move the atoms on the BO potential energy surface. As a consequence of these developments it is now possible to identify stable or metastable states, to sample configurations consistent with the appropriate thermodynamic ensemble, and to estimate the kinetics of reactions and phase transitions. All too often, however, progress is slowed down by the bottleneck associated with implementing new optimization algorithms and/or sampling techniques into the many existing electronic-structure and empirical-potential codes. To address this problem, we are thus releasing a new version of the i-PI software. This piece of software is an easily extensible framework for implementing advanced atomistic simulation techniques using interatomic potentials and forces calculated by an external driver code. While the original version of the code (Ceriotti et al., 2014) was developed with a focus on path integral molecular dynamics techniques, this second release of i-PI not only includes several new advanced path integral methods, but also offers other classes of algorithms. In other words, i-PI is moving towards becoming a universal force engine that is both modular and tightly coupled to the driver codes that evaluate the potential energy surface and its derivatives. Program summary: Program Title: i-PI Program Files doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.17632/x792grbm9g.1 Licensing provisions: GPLv3, MIT Programming language: Python External routines/libraries: NumPy Nature of problem: Lowering the implementation barrier to bring state-of-the-art sampling and atomistic modeling techniques to ab initio and empirical potentials programs. Solution method: Advanced sampling methods, including path-integral molecular dynamics techniques, are implemented in a Python interface. Any electronic structure code can be patched to receive the atomic coordinates from the Python interface, and to return the forces and energy that are used to integrate the equations of motion, optimize atomic geometries, etc. Restrictions: This code does not compute interatomic potentials, although the distribution includes sample driver codes that can be used to test different techniques using a few simple model force fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-223
Number of pages10
JournalComputer physics communications
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Ab initio
  • Accelerated sampling
  • Geometry optimizers
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Path integral
  • n/a OA procedure


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