Density functional theory augmented with an empirical dispersion term. Interaction energies and geometries of 80 noncovalent complexes compared with ab initio quantum mechanics calculations

Petr Jurecka, Jirí Cerný, Pavel Hobza, Dennis R Salahub
Journal of Computational Chemistry 2007 January 30, 28 (2): 555-69
Standard density functional theory (DFT) is augmented with a damped empirical dispersion term. The damping function is optimized on a small, well balanced set of 22 van der Waals (vdW) complexes and verified on a validation set of 58 vdW complexes. Both sets contain biologically relevant molecules such as nucleic acid bases. Results are in remarkable agreement with reference high-level wave function data based on the CCSD(T) method. The geometries obtained by full gradient optimization are in very good agreement with the best available theoretical reference. In terms of the standard deviation and average errors, results including the empirical dispersion term are clearly superior to all pure density functionals investigated-B-LYP, B3-LYP, PBE, TPSS, TPSSh, and BH-LYP-and even surpass the MP2/cc-pVTZ method. The combination of empirical dispersion with the TPSS functional performs remarkably well. The most critical part of the empirical dispersion approach is the damping function. The damping parameters should be optimized for each density functional/basis set combination separately. To keep the method simple, we optimized mainly a single factor, s(R), scaling globally the vdW radii. For good results, a basis set of at least triple-zeta quality is required and diffuse functions are recommended, since the basis set superposition error seriously deteriorates the results. On average, the dispersion contribution to the interaction energy missing in the DFT functionals examined here is about 15 and 100% for the hydrogen-bonded and stacked complexes considered, respectively.

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