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Assessing computationally efficient isomerization dynamics: ΔSCF density-functional theory study of azobenzene molecular switching

Assessing computationally efficient isomerization dynamics: ΔSCF density-functional theory study of azobenzene molecular switching

R. J. Maurer, K. Reuter, J. Chem. Phys. 135, 224303 (2011)

Proving the ability of the ΔSCF method to describe azobenzene cis-trans switching

We present a detailed comparison of the S0, S1 (n → π*) and S2 (π → π*) potential energy surfaces (PESs) of the prototypical molecular switch azobenzene as obtained by Δ-self-consistent-field (ΔSCF) density-functional theory(DFT), time-dependent DFT (TD-DFT) and approximate coupled cluster singles and doubles (RI-CC2). All three methods unanimously agree in terms of the PES topologies, which are furthermore fully consistent with existing experimental data concerning the photo-isomerization mechanism. In particular, sum-method corrected ΔSCF and TD-DFT yield very similar results for S1 and S2, when based on the same ground-state exchange-correlation (xc) functional. While these techniques yield the correct PES topology already on the level of semi-local xc functionals, reliable absolute excitation energies as compared to RI-CC2 or experiment require an xc treatment on the level of long-range corrected hybrids. Nevertheless, particularly the robustness of ΔSCF with respect to state crossings as well as its numerical efficiency suggest this approach as a promising route to dynamical studies of larger azobenzene-containing systems.

Azobenzene charge transfer