Cluster space

Setting up a cluster space

The cluster space serves as a basis for cluster expansions. Setting up a clusterspace object is commonly done via:

cs = ClusterSpace(atoms, cutoffs=[7.0, 5.0], chemical_symbols=['Si', 'Ge'])

The cutoffs are set up to include pairs with an interatomic distance smaller than 7 Å and triplets for which all pair-wise interatomic distance are smaller than 5 Å. Here, Si and Ge are allowed to occupy the reference lattice.


A cluster space can also be constructed with multiple sublattices. Consider for example a rocksalt lattice, on which we want to allow mixing of Na and Li on the Na sublattice and Cl and F on the Cl sublattices. This can be achived by:

from import bulk
atoms = bulk('NaCl', 'rocksalt', a=4.0)
chemical_symbols = [['Na', 'Li'], ['Cl', 'F']]
cs = ClusterSpace(atoms, [7.0, 5.0], chemical_symbols)

where chemical_symbols now specifies which speicies are allowed for each lattice site in atoms.

Inactive sites

The sublattice functionality also allows one to have inactive sites. For example, if we consider the system above but would like to keep the Cl lattice fixed it can be achived via:

chemical_symbols = [['Na', 'Li'], ['Cl']]
cs = ClusterSpace(atoms, [7.0, 5.0], chemical_symbols)

2D systems

icet requires input structures to have periodic boundary conditions (PBCs). In order to treat two-dimensional systems, or more generally without PBCs in at least one direction, one has to surround the prototype structure with vacuum and then apply PBCs in all directions. This can easily be achived with the ASE functions:

from import surface
atoms = surface('Cu', (1,1,1), layers=7)

which creates ase atoms object without PBC in the z-direction. The structure can be modified to have PBC in the z-direction with vacuum via:

atoms.pbc = [True, True, True], axis=2)

which can now be used to create a cluster space.


class icet.ClusterSpace(structure, cutoffs, chemical_symbols)[source]

This class provides functionality for generating and maintaining cluster spaces.

Note: In icet all ase.Atoms objects must have periodic boundary conditions. When carrying out cluster expansions for surfaces and nanoparticles it is therefore recommended to surround the structure with vacuum and use periodic boundary conditions. This can be done using e.g.,

  • structure (ase.Atoms) – atomic structure
  • cutoffs (list(float)) –

    cutoff radii per order that define the cluster space

    Cutoffs are specified in units of Angstrom and refer to the longest distance between two atoms in the cluster. The first element refers to pairs, the second to triplets, the third to quadruplets, and so on. cutoffs=[7.0, 4.5] thus implies that all pairs distanced 7 A or less will be included, as well as all triplets among which the longest distance is no longer than 4.5 A.

  • chemical_symbols (list(str) or list(list(str))) –

    list of chemical symbols, each of which must map to an element of the periodic table

    If a list of chemical symbols is provided, all sites on the lattice will have the same allowed occupations as the input list.

    If a list of list of chemical symbols is provided then the outer list must be the same length as the structure object and chemical_symbols[i] will correspond to the allowed species on lattice site i.


The following snippets illustrate several common situations:

from import bulk
from import read
from icet import ClusterSpace

# AgPd alloy with pairs up to 7.0 A and triplets up to 4.5 A
prim = bulk('Ag')
cs = ClusterSpace(structure=prim, cutoffs=[7.0, 4.5],
                  chemical_symbols=[['Ag', 'Pd']])

# (Mg,Zn)O alloy on rocksalt lattice with pairs up to 8.0 A
prim = bulk('MgO', crystalstructure='rocksalt', a=6.0)
cs = ClusterSpace(structure=prim, cutoffs=[8.0],
                  chemical_symbols=[['Mg', 'Zn'], ['O']])

# (Ga,Al)(As,Sb) alloy with pairs, triplets, and quadruplets
prim = bulk('GaAs', crystalstructure='zincblende', a=6.5)
cs = ClusterSpace(structure=prim, cutoffs=[7.0, 6.0, 5.0],
                  chemical_symbols=[['Ga', 'Al'], ['As', 'Sb']])

# PdCuAu alloy with pairs and triplets
prim = bulk('Pd')
cs = ClusterSpace(structure=prim, cutoffs=[7.0, 5.0],
                  chemical_symbols=[['Au', 'Cu', 'Pd']])
assert_structure_compatibility(structure, vol_tol=1e-05)[source]

Raises error if structure is not compatible with ClusterSpace.


Add check for if structure is relaxed.

Parameters:structure (Atoms) – structure to check if compatible with ClusterSpace
Return type:None

Species identified by their chemical symbols

Return type:List[List[str]]

Returns copy of ClusterSpace instance.


Cutoffs for different n-body clusters. The cutoff radius (in Angstroms) defines the largest interatomic distance in a cluster.

Return type:List[float]

Evaluates value of a cluster function.


Returns list of species associated with cluster space as chemical symbols.


Returns the cluster vector for a structure.

Parameters:structure (Atoms) – atomic configuration
Return type:the cluster vector

Returns the number of orbits by order.

Return type:OrderedDict
  • an ordered dictionary where keys and values represent order and number
  • of orbits, respectively

Returns possible occupation of the orbit.

Parameters:orbit_index (int) –
Return type:List[List[str]]

Returns the sublattices of the input structure.

Parameters:structure (Atoms) – structure the sublattices are based on
Return type:Sublattices

Checks whether an structure has self-interactions via periodic boundary conditions.

Parameters:structure (Atoms) – structure to be tested
Returns:If True, the structure contains self-interactions via periodic boundary conditions, otherwise False.
Return type:bool

list of orbits with information regarding order, radius, multiplicity etc

Return type:List[dict]

Orbit list that defines the cluster in the cluster space


Primitive structure on which cluster space is based

Return type:Atoms
print_overview(print_threshold=None, print_minimum=10)[source]

Print an overview of the cluster space in terms of the orbits (order, radius, multiplicity etc).

  • print_threshold (Optional[int]) – if the number of orbits exceeds this number print dots
  • print_minimum (int) – number of lines printed from the top and the bottom of the orbit list if print_threshold is exceeded
Return type:


static read(filename)[source]

Reads cluster space from filename.

Parameters:filename (str) – name of file from which to read cluster space

Saves cluster space to a file.

Parameters:filename (str) – name of file to which to write
Return type:None

Supplementary functions


Retrieves information concerning the singlets in the input structure.

  • structure (Atoms) – atomic configuration
  • return_cluster_space (bool) – if True return the cluster space created during the process

  • list of dicts – each dictionary in the list represents one orbit
  • ClusterSpace object (optional) – cluster space created during the process


Visualizes singlets in a structure using the ASE graphical user interface.

  • structure (Atoms) – atomic configuration
  • to_primitive (bool) – if True the input structure will be reduced to its primitive unit cell before processing