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Power-law distributions for the areas of the basins of attraction on a potential energy landscape

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Massen and Doye, Phys. Rev. E, 75, 037101 (2007)

Energy landscape approaches have become increasingly popular for analyzing a wide variety of chemical physics phenomena. Basic to many of these applications has been the inherent structure mapping, which divides up the potential energy landscape into basins of attraction surrounding the minima. Here, we probe the nature of this division by introducing a method to compute the basin area distribution and applying it to some archetypal supercooled liquids. We find that this probability distribution is a power law over a large number of decades with the lower-energy minima having larger basins of attraction. Interestingly, the exponent for this power law is approximately the same as that for a high-dimensional Apollonian packing, providing further support for the suggestion that there is a strong analogy between the way the energy landscape is divided into basins, and the way that space is packed in self-similar, space-filling hypersphere packings, such as the Apollonian packing. These results suggest that the basins of attraction provide a fractal-like tiling of the energy landscape, and that a scale-free pattern of connections between the minima is a general property of energy landscapes.

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