A Growing String Method for Determining Transition States: Comparison to the Nudged Elastic Band and String Methods

Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Catalysis and Reaction Engineering, Materials Chemistry


Interpolation methods such as the nudged elastic band and string methods are widely used for calculating minimum energy pathways and transition states for chemical reactions. Both methods require an initial guess for the reaction pathway. A poorly chosen initial guess can cause slow convergence, convergence to an incorrect pathway, or even failed electronic structure force calculations along the guessed pathway. This paper presents a growing string method that can find minimum energy pathways and transition states without the requirement of an initial guess for the pathway. The growing string begins as two string fragments, one associated with the reactants and the other with the products. Each string fragment is grown separately until the fragments converge. Once the two fragments join, the full string moves toward the minimum energy pathway according to the algorithm for the string method. This paper compares the growing string method to the string method and to the nudged elastic band method using the alanine dipeptide rearrangement as an example. In this example, for which the linearly interpolated guess is far from the minimum energy pathway, the growing string method finds the saddle point with significantly fewer electronic structure force calculations than the string method or the nudged elastic band method.