DFT-Quality Adsorption Simulations in Metal–Organic Frameworks Enabled by Machine Learning Potentials

R. Goeminne, L. Vanduyfhuys, V. Van Speybroeck, T. Verstraelen
Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation (JCTC)
19, 18, 6313-6325


Nanoporous materials such as metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) have been extensively studied for their potential for adsorption and separation applications. In this respect, grand canonical Monte Carlo (GCMC) simulations have become a well-established tool for computational screenings of the adsorption properties of large sets of MOFs. However, their reliance on empirical force field potentials has limited the accuracy with which this tool can be applied to MOFs with challenging chemical environments such as open-metal sites. On the other hand, density-functional theory (DFT) is too computationally demanding to be routinely employed in GCMC simulations due to the excessive number of required function evaluations. Therefore, we propose in this paper a protocol for training machine learning potentials (MLPs) on a limited set of DFT intermolecular interaction energies (and forces) of CO2 in ZIF-8 and the open-metal site containing Mg-MOF-74, and use the MLPs to derive adsorption isotherms from first principles. We make use of the equivariant NequIP model which has demonstrated excellent data efficiency, and as such an error on the interaction energies below 0.2 kJ mol–1 per adsorbate in ZIF-8 was attained. Its use in GCMC simulations results in highly accurate adsorption isotherms and heats of adsorption. For Mg-MOF-74, a large dependence of the obtained results on the used dispersion correction was observed, where PBE-MBD performs the best. Lastly, to test the transferability of the MLP trained on ZIF-8, it was applied to ZIF-3, ZIF-4, and ZIF-6, which resulted in large deviations in the predicted adsorption isotherms and heats of adsorption. Only when explicitly training on data for all ZIFs, accurate adsorption properties were obtained. As the proposed methodology is widely applicable to guest adsorption in nanoporous materials, it opens up the possibility for training general-purpose MLPs to perform highly accurate investigations of guest adsorption.