Siesta calculations


A plugin for Siesta main code. It allows to prepare, submit and retrieve the results of a standard siesta calculation, including support for the parsing of the electronic bands and the output geometry of a relaxation. It is implemented in the class SiestaCalculation.

Supported Siesta versions

At least 4.0.1 of the 4.0 series, 4.1-b3 of the 4.1 series and the MaX-1.0 release, which can be found in the development platform ( For more up to date info on compatibility, please check the wiki.


Some examples are referenced in the following list. They are located in the folder aiida_siesta/examples/plugins/siesta.

  • code, class Code, Mandatory

    A code object linked to a Siesta executable. If you setup the code Siesta4.0.1 on machine kelvin following the aiida guidelines, then the code is selected in this way:

    codename = 'Siesta4.0.1@kelvin'
    from aiida.orm import Code
    code = Code.get_from_string(codename)
  • structure, class StructureData, Mandatory

    A structure. Siesta employs “species labels” to implement special conditions (such as basis set characteristics) for specific atoms (e.g., surface atoms might have a richer basis set). This is implemented through the name attribute of the Site objects. For example:

    from aiida.orm import StructureData
    alat = 15. # angstrom
    cell = [[alat, 0., 0.,],
      [0., alat, 0.,],
      [0., 0., alat,],
     # Benzene molecule with a special carbon atom
     s = StructureData(cell=cell)

    The class StructureData uses Angstrom as internal units, the cell and atom positions must be specified in Angstrom.

    The StructureData can also import ase structures or pymatgen structures. These two tools can be used to load structure from files. See example


    Siesta can handle ghost atoms, carrying only extra orbitals, to increase the variational freedom. In the AiiDA plugin, these ghost atoms are specified in the basis dictionary (see below), and they should not be part of the input StructureData object.

  • parameters, class Dict, Mandatory

    A dictionary with scalar fdf variables and blocks, which are the basic elements of any Siesta input file. A given Siesta fdf file can be cast almost directly into this dictionary form, except that some items are blocked. The blocked keywords include the system information (system-label, system-name) and all the structure information as they will be automatically set by Aiida. Moreover, the keyword dm-use-save-dm is not allowed (the restart options are explained here) together with the keyword geometry-must-converge (set to True by default for each calculation with variable geometry). Also the max-walltime is blocked since it is set by the plugin to be equal to the max_wallclock_seconds passed in the computational resources. This should prevent the calculation to be terminated by the scheduler. In case a siesta max time smaller than the max_wallclock_seconds is required, it is suggested to increase the max-walltime-slack value. Finally, all the pao and optical options must be avoided here, because they belong to the basis and optical inputs respectively (see following of the list). Any units are specified for now as part of the value string. Blocks are entered by using an appropriate key and Python’s multiline string constructor. For example:

    from aiida.orm import Dict
    parameters = Dict(dict={
      "mesh-cutoff": "200 Ry",
      "dm-tolerance": "0.0001",
      "%block example-block":
        first line
        second line
        %endblock example-block""",

    Note that Siesta fdf keywords allow ‘.’, ‘-’, (or nothing) as internal separators. AiiDA does not allow the use of ‘.’ in nodes to be inserted in the database, so it should not be used in the input script (or removed before assigning the dictionary to the Dict instance). For legibility, a single dash (‘-’) is suggested, as in the examples above. Moreover, because the parameters are passed through a python dictionary, if, by mistake, the user passes the same keyword two (or more) times, only the last specification will be considered. For instance:

    parameters = Dict(dict={
      "mesh-cutoff": "200 Ry",
      "mesh-cutoff": "300 Ry",

    will set a mesh-cutoff of 300 Ry. This is the opposite respect to what is done in the Siesta code, where the first assignment is the selected one. Please note that this applies also to keywords that correspond to the same fdf variable. For instance:

    parameters = Dict(dict={
      "mesh-cutoff": "200 Ry",
      "Mesh-Cut-off": "300 Ry",

    will run a calculation with mesh-cutoff equal to 300 Ry, whithout raising any error.

  • basis, class Dict, Optional

    A dictionary specifically intended for basis set information. It follows the same structure as the parameters element, including the allowed use of fdf-block items. This raw interface allows a direct translation of the myriad basis-set options supported by the Siesta program. In future we might have a more structured input for basis-set information. An example:

    from aiida.orm import Dict
    basis_dict = {
    'pao-splitnorm': 0.150,
    'pao-energyshift': '0.020 Ry',
    '%block pao-basis-sizes':
    C    SZP
    Cred SZ
    H    SZP
    %endblock pao-basis-sizes""",
    basis = Dict(dict=basis_dict)

    In case no basis is set (and no ions is passed in input), the Siesta calculation will not include any basis specification and it will run with the default basis: DZP plus (many) other defaults.

    The basis dictionary also accepts a special key called floating_sites that can be used to specify the location and kind of ghost atoms, or sites carrying only floating orbitals. The associated value must be a list of dictionaries and each dictionary must include as keys at least the name, symbols and position of the floating site. An example is:

    basis = Dict(dict={
            'floating_sites': [{"name":'Si_bond', "symbols":'Si', "position":(0.125, 0.125, 0.125)}],
            '%block pao-basis-sizes':
            Si_bond SZ
            %endblock pao-basis-sizes""",

    The “position” must be specified in Angstrom. A “name” that corresponds to an existing atomic site is forbidden. As shown in the example, in case a basis specification has to be added for one or more floating_sites, it must be included in the basis dictionary in the same way as those for any other atomic kinds. Please look at the examples and for a practical example.

  • pseudos, input namespace of class PsfData OR class PsmlData, Optional

    This input is mandatory except if the ions input is set (see below).

    This inputs exploits the functionalities of the PsfData <> and PsmlData <> of the aiida-pseudo package.

    One pseudopotential file per atomic element is required. Several species (in the Siesta sense, which allows the same element to be treated differently according to its environment) can share the same pseudopotential. For the example above:

    import os
    from import PsfData
    pseudo_file_to_species_map = [ ("C.psf", ['C', 'Cred']),("H.psf", ['H'])]
    pseudos_dict = {}
    for fname, kinds, in pseudo_file_to_species_map:
          absname = os.path.realpath(os.path.join("path/to/file",fname))
          pseudo = PsfData.get_or_create(absname)
          for j in kinds:

    Alternatively, a pseudo for every atomic species can be set from a family of pseudopotentials:

    from aiida.orm import Group
    family = Group.get(label=FAM_NAME)
    pseudos = family.get_pseudos(structure=s)

    where s is a StructureData <aiida.orm.StructureData> object and FAM_NAME is the name of the pseudopotentials family, that must be installed in the database.

    The simplest way to install a pseudo family is through the command:

    aiida-pseudo install family /PATH/TO/FOLDER/ FAM_NAME -P pseudo.psf  #or pseudo.psml

    where /PATH/TO/FOLDER/ is a folder containing the pseudos. The aiida-pseudo package allows more sophisticated ways of creating pseudo family, for instance downloading the pseudos directly from a url or online repository (PseudoDojo for instance). Please refer to the corresponding documentation for more details.

    For a practical example, look at

  • ions, input namespace of class IonData, Optional

    The class IonData <> has been implemented along the lines of the PsfData class to carry information on the entity that in siesta terminology is called “ion”, and that packages the set of basis orbitals and KB projectors for a given species. It contains also some extra metadata. The class IonData stores “.ion.xml” files and it also provides a method get_content_ascii_format that translates the content of an “.ion.xml” into an “.ion” file format, which is the only one currently accepted by Siesta.

    When this input is present, the plugin takes care of coping in the running folder the “.ion” files and set the “user_basis” siesta keyword to True. Moreover, when this input is present, pseudos and basis inputs are ignored (except possible floating_orbitals defined in the basis).

    One ion file per atomic element is required and must be passed to the calculation in a way similar to the pseudos. For instance:

    import os
    from import IonData
    ion_file_to_species_map = [ ("C.ion", ['C']),("H.ion", ['H'])]
    ions_dict = {}
    for fname, kinds, in ion_file_to_species_map:
          absname = os.path.realpath(os.path.join("path/to/file",fname))
          ion = IonData.get_or_create(absname)
          for j in kinds:

    The can be analyzed to better understand the use of ions inputs.

  • kpoints, class KpointsData, Optional

    Reciprocal space points for the full sampling of the BZ during the self-consistent-field iteration. It must be given in mesh form. There is no support yet for Siesta’s “kgrid-cutoff” keyword:

    from aiida.orm import KpointsData
    kp_mesh = 5
    mesh_displ = 0.5 #optional

    The class KpointsData <aiida.orm.KpointsData> also implements the methods set_cell_from_structure and set_kpoints_mesh_from_density that allow to obtain a uniform mesh automatically.

    If this node is not present, only the Gamma point is used for sampling.

  • bandskpoints, class KpointsData, Optional

    Reciprocal space points for the calculation of bands. The full list of kpoints must be passed to bandskpoints and they must be in units of the reciprocal lattice vectors. There is no obligation to set the cell in bandskpoints, however this might be useful in order to exploit the functionality of the class KpointsData. If set, the cell must be the same of the input structure. Some examples on how to pass the kpoints are the following.

    One can manually listing a set of isolated kpoints:

    from aiida.orm import KpointsData
    kpp = [(0.1,  0.1, 0.1), (0.5,  0.5, 0.5), (0., 0., 0.)]

    In this case the Siesta input will use the “BandPoints” block.

    Alternatively (recommended) the high-symmetry path associated to the structure under investigation can be automatically generated through the aiida tool get_explicit_kpoints_path. Here how to use it:

    from aiida.orm import KpointsData
    from import get_explicit_kpoints_path
    symmpath_parameters = Dict(dict={'reference_distance': 0.02})
    kpresult = get_explicit_kpoints_path(s, **symmpath_parameters.get_dict())
    bandskpoints = kpresult['explicit_kpoints']

    Where ‘s’ in the input structure and reference_distance is the distance between two subsequent kpoints. In this case the block “BandLines” is set in the Siesta calculation.


    “SeeK-path” might modify the structure to follow particular conventions and the generated kpoints might only apply on the internally generated ‘primitive_structure’ and not on the input structure that was provided. The correct way to use this tool is to use the generated ‘primitive_structure’ also for the Siesta calculation:

    structure = kpresult['primitive_structure']


    As we use the initial structure cell in order to obtain the kpoints path, it is very risky to apply this method when also a relaxation of the cell is performed! The cell might relax in a different symmetry resulting in a wrong path for the bands. Consider to use the BandGapWorkChain if a relaxation is needed before computing the bands.


    The get_explicit_kpoints_path make use of “SeeK-path”. Please cite the HPKOT paper if you use this tool. “SeeK-path” is a external utility, not a requirement for aiida-core, therefore it is not available by default. It can be easily installed using pip install seekpath. “SeeK-path” allows to determine canonical unit cells and k-point information in an easy way. For more general information, refer to the SeeK-path documentation.

    The final option covers the situation when one needs to calculate the bands on a specific path (and maybe needs to maintain a specific convention for the structure). The full list of kpoints must be passed and, very importantly, labels must be set for the high symmetry points! This is essential for the correct set up of the “BandLines” in Siesta. External tolls can be used to create equidistant points, whithin aiida the following (very involved) option is available:

    from aiida.orm import KpointsData
    from import get_explicit_kpoints_path as legacy_path
    kpp = [('A',  (0.500,  0.250, 0.750), 'B', (0.500,  0.500, 0.500), 40),
    ('B', (0.500,  0.500, 0.500), 'C', (0., 0., 0.), 40)]

    The legacy get_explicit_kpoints_path shares only the name with the function in, but it is very different in scope.

    The full list of cases can be explored looking at the example


    The implementation relies on the correct description of the labels in the class KpointsData. Refrain from improper use of bandskpoints.labels and follow the the instructions described above. An incorrect use of the labels might result in an incorrect parsing of the bands.

    If the keyword node bandskpoints is not present, no band structure is computed.

  • optical, class Dict, Optional

    This is the dedicated input to specify Siesta’s keywords related to the calculation of optical properties. It is a simple dictionary and it follows the same concept of the parameters and basis inputs, including the requirements for the use of fdf-block items. It is mandatory to specify a “%block optical-mesh”. All the other optical inputs are optional. If not already specified by the user, the “optical-calculation” keyword will automatically set to True by the plugin.

  • lua, input namespace, Optional

    This input namespace allows control on the LUA interface to SIESTA. The user should remember that to enable the LUA interface, it is suggested to compile SIESTA with flook and to use the flos library (flos documentation). Follow the SIESTA manual for complete instructions. Since this option also requires the definition of the LUA_PATH, an additional step must be done before submission.

    This input namespace accepts the following elements:

    spec.input('lua.script', valid_type=orm.SinglefileData, required=False)
    spec.input('lua.parameters', valid_type=orm.Dict, required=False)
    spec.input('lua.input_files', valid_type=orm.FolderData, required=False)
    spec.input('lua.retrieve_list', valid_type=orm.List, required=False)
  • lua.script is a Lua script implementing a specific functionality, and possibly being able to set its own operational parameters. For example, the LBFGS geometry relaxation algorithm, or the NEB path-optimization scheme, can be implemented in Lua. See the examples provided.

  • lua.parameters is a dictionary containing the operational parameters for the script. For example, it can set the tolerance to be used in the script, or the value of the ‘spring constant’ in NEB simulations.

  • lua.input_files is a set of auxiliary files packaged in a FolderData object. For example, the initial set of images for a NEB calculation.

  • lua.retrieve_list contains a list of the files produced by the operation of the Lua script that need to be retrieved. They should be parsed by functionality-specific modules in client workchains.

  • settings, class Dict , Optional

    An optional dictionary that activates non-default operations. For a list of possible values to pass, see the section on advanced features.

  • parent_calc_folder, class RemoteData , Optional

    Optional port used to activate the restart features.

Submitting the calculation

Once all the inputs above are set, the subsequent step consists in passing them to the calculation class and run/submit it.

First, the Siesta calculation class is loaded:

from aiida_siesta.calculations.siesta import SiestaCalculation
builder = SiestaCalculation.get_builder()

The inputs (defined as in the previous section) are passed to the builder:

builder.code = code
builder.structure = structure
builder.parameters = parameters
builder.pseudos = pseudos_dict   #or builder.ions = ...
builder.basis = basis
builder.kpoints = kpoints
builder.bandskpoints = bandskpoints

Finally the resources for the calculation must be set, for instance:

builder.metadata.options.resources = {'num_machines': 1}
builder.metadata.options.max_wallclock_seconds = 1800

In case of LUA calculations, the LUA_PATH must be defined. To do so:

builder.metadata.options.environment_variables = {"LUA_PATH":"/flos_path/?.lua;/flos_path/?/init.lua;;;"}

where flos_path is the path to the flos library repository (in the computer where SIESTA will run). Please note that the explicit path must be used due to a problem of aiida ( This means that, for instance, the command export LUA_PATH="$HOME/flos/?.lua;$HOME/flos/?/init.lua;$LUA_PATH;;" suggested in the flos documentation must be substitute with explicit path of $HOME.

Optionally, label and description:

builder.metadata.label = 'My generic title'
builder.metadata.description 'My more detailed description'

To run the calculation in an interactive way:

from aiida.engine import run
results = run(builder)

Here the results variable will contain a dictionary containing all the nodes that were produced as output.

Another option is to submit it to the daemon:

from aiida.engine import submit
calc = submit(builder)

In this case, calc is the calculation node and not the results dictionary.


In order to inspect the inputs created by AiiDA without actually running the calculation, we can perform a dry run of the submission process:

builder.metadata.dry_run = True
builder.metadata.store_provenance = False

This will create the input files, that are available for inspection.


The use of the builder makes the process more intuitive, but it is not mandatory. The inputs can be provided as keywords argument when you launch the calculation, passing the calculation class as the first argument:

run(SiestaCalculation, structure=s, pseudos=pseudos, kpoints = kpoints, ...)

same syntax for the command submit.

A large set of examples covering some standard cases are in the folder aiida_siesta/examples/plugins/siesta. They can be run with:

runaiida {--send, --dont-send} code@computer

The parameter --dont-send will activate the “dry run” option. In that case a test folder (submit_test) will be created, containing all the files that aiida generates automatically. The parameter --send will submit the example to the daemon. One of the two options needs to be present to run the script. The second argument contains the name of the code (code@computer) to use in the calculation. It must be a previously set up code, corresponding to a siesta executable.


There are several output nodes that can be created by the plugin, according to the calculation details. All output nodes can be accessed with the calculation.outputs method.

  • output_parameters Dict

    A dictionary with metadata, scalar result values, a warnings list, and possibly a timing section. Units are specified by means of an extra item with ‘_units’ appended to the key:

      "siesta:Version": "siesta-4.0.2",
      "E_Fermi": -3.24,
      "E_Fermi_units": "eV",
      "FreeE": -6656.2343,
      "FreeE_units": "eV",
      "E_KS": -6656.2343,
      "E_KS_units": 'eV',
      "global_time": 55.213,
      "timing_decomposition": {
        "compute_DM": 33.208,
        "nlefsm-1": 0.582,
        "nlefsm-2": 0.045,
        "post-SCF": 2.556,
        "setup_H": 16.531,
        "setup_H0": 2.351,
        "siesta": 55.213,
        "state_init": 0.171
      "warnings": [ "INFO: Job Completed"]

    The scalar quantities included are, currently, the Kohn-Sham (E_KS), Free (FreeE), Band (Ebs), and Fermi (E_Fermi) energies, and the total spin (stot). These are converted to float. The other quantities are or type str.

    The timing information (if present), includes the global walltime in seconds, and a decomposition by sections of the code. Most relevant are typically the compute_DM and setup_H sections.

    The warnings list contains program messages, labeled as “INFO”, “WARNING”, or “FATAL”, read directly from a MESSAGES file produced by Siesta, which include items from the execution of the program and also a possible ‘out of time’ condition. This is implemented by passing to the program the wallclock time specified in the script, and checking at each scf step for the walltime consumed. This warnings list can be examined by the parser itself to raise an exception in the “FATAL” case.

  • forces_and_stress ArrayData

    Contains the final forces (eV/Angstrom) and stresses (Ry/Angstrom^3) in array form. To access their values:

  • output_structure StructureData

    Present only if the calculation is moving the ions. Cell and ionic positions refer to the last configuration.

  • bands, BandsData

    Present only if a band calculation is requested (signaled by the presence of a bandskpoints input node of class KpointsData <aiida.orm.KpointsData>). It contains an array with the list of electronic energies (in eV) for every kpoint. For spin-polarized calculations, there is an extra dimension for spin. In this class also the full list of kpoints is stored and they are in units of 1/Angstrom. Therefore a direct comparison with the Siesta output SystLabel.bands is possible only after the conversion of Angstrom to Bohr. The bands are not rescaled by the Fermi energy. Tools for the generation of files that can be easly plot are available through bands.export.

  • optical_eps2 ArrayData

    Array containing the imaginary part of the dielectric function (epsilon_2) versus energy (eV). To access the values:

  • ions, IonData

    Instances of IonData can be used as inputs of a SiestaCalculation, meaning aiida_siesta supports the use of pre-packaged information in “.ion” files. However, most of the time, pseudos and basis specifications are given separately for a siesta run, and the basis generation makes use of internal siesta algorithms that translate high-level definitions (basis-sizes, split-norm, …) into the actual basis orbitals. In these cases siesta produces an “.ion.xml” file for each species in the structure. These files are parsed and stored into IonData instances that can be then easily reused in subsequent calculations. From IonData instances also the explicit orbitals of the basis can be obtained. One ions for each species is created and they will be output with the name ions_El where El is the label of the species.

  • remote_folder, RemoteData

    The working remote folder for the last calculation executed.

  • retrieved, RemoteData

    The local folder with the retrieved files.

No trajectories have been implemented yet.


Errors during the parsing stage are reported in the log of the calculation (accessible with the verdi process report command). Moreover, they are stored in the output_parameters node under the key warnings.


A restarting capability is implemented through the optional input parent_calc_folder, RemoteData, which represents the remote scratch folder (remote_folder output) of a previous calculation.

The density-matrix file is copied from the old calculation scratch folder to the new calculation’s one.

This approach enables continuation of runs which have failed due to lack of time or insufficient convergence in the allotted number of steps.

An informative example is in the folder aiida_siesta/examples/plugins/siesta.

Additional advanced features

While the input link with name parameters is used for the main Siesta options (as would be given in an fdf file), additional settings can be specified in the settings input, also of type Dict.

Below we summarise some of the options that you can specify, and their effect.

The keys of the settings dictionary are internally converted to uppercase by the plugin.

Adding command-line options

If you want to add command-line options to the executable (particularly relevant e.g. to tune the parallelization level), you can pass each option as a string in a list, as follows:

settings_dict = {
    'cmdline': ['-option1', '-option2'],
builder.settings = Dict(dict=settings_dict)

Note that very few user-level comand-line options (besides those already inserted by AiiDA for MPI operation) are currently implemented.

Retrieving more files

If you know that your calculation is producing additional files that you want to retrieve (and preserve in the AiiDA repository), you can add those files as a list as follows:

settings_dict = {
  'additional_retrieve_list': ['aiida.EIG', 'aiida.ORB_INDX'],
 builder.settings = Dict(dict=settings_dict)

See for example in aiida_siesta/examples/plugins/siesta. The files can then be accesed through the output retrieved and its methods get_object and get_object_content.