We examine the performance of genetic algorithms (GAs) in uncovering solar water light splitters over a space of almost 19,000 perovskite materials. The entire search space was previously calculated using density functional theory to determine solutions that fulfill constraints on stability, band gap, and band edge position. Here, we test over 2500 unique GA implementations in finding these solutions to determine whether GA can avoid the need for brute force search, and thereby enable larger chemical spaces to be screened within a given computational budget. We find that the best GAs tested offer almost a 6 times efficiency gain over random search, and are comparable to the performance of a search based on informed chemical rules. In addition, the GA is almost 10 times as efficient as random search in finding half the solutions within the search space. By employing chemical rules, the performance of the GA can be further improved to approximately 12–17 better than random search. We discuss the effect of population size, selection function, crossover function, mutation rate, fitness function, and elitism on the final result, finding that selection function and elitism are especially important to GA performance. In addition, we determine that parameters that perform well in finding solar water splitters can also be applied to discovering transparent photocorrosion shields. Our results indicate that coupling GAs to high-throughput density functional calculations presents a promising method to rapidly search large chemical spaces for technological materials.
Journal of Materials Science, 2013, Vol 48, Issue 19, p. 6519-6534