Benchmark theoretical study of the π-π binding energy in the benzene dimer

Evangelos Miliordos, Edoardo Aprà, Sotiris S Xantheas
Journal of Physical Chemistry. A 2014 September 4, 118 (35): 7568-78
We establish a new estimate for the binding energy between two benzene molecules in the parallel-displaced (PD) conformation by systematically converging (i) the intra- and intermolecular geometry at the minimum, (ii) the expansion of the orbital basis set, and (iii) the level of electron correlation. The calculations were performed at the second-order Møller-Plesset perturbation (MP2) and the coupled cluster including singles, doubles, and a perturbative estimate of triples replacement [CCSD(T)] levels of electronic structure theory. At both levels of theory, by including results corrected for basis set superposition error (BSSE), we have estimated the complete basis set (CBS) limit by employing the family of Dunning's correlation-consistent polarized valence basis sets. The largest MP2 calculation was performed with the cc-pV6Z basis set (2772 basis functions), whereas the largest CCSD(T) calculation was with the cc-pV5Z basis set (1752 basis functions). The cluster geometries were optimized with basis sets up to quadruple-ζ quality, observing that both its intra- and intermolecular parts have practically converged with the triple-ζ quality sets. The use of converged geometries was found to play an important role for obtaining accurate estimates for the CBS limits. Our results demonstrate that the binding energies with the families of the plain (cc-pVnZ) and augmented (aug-cc-pVnZ) sets converge [within <0.01 kcal/mol for MP2 and <0.15 kcal/mol for CCSD(T)] to the same CBS limit. In addition, the average of the uncorrected and BSSE-corrected binding energies was found to converge to the same CBS limit much faster than either of the two constituents (uncorrected or BSSE-corrected binding energies). Due to the fact that the family of augmented basis sets (especially for the larger sets) causes serious linear dependency problems, the plain basis sets (for which no linear dependencies were found) are deemed as a more efficient and straightforward path for obtaining an accurate CBS limit. We considered extrapolations of the uncorrected (ΔE) and BSSE-corrected (ΔEcp) binding energies, their average value (ΔEave), as well as the average of the latter over the plain and augmented sets (ΔẼave) with the cardinal number of the basis set n. Our best estimate of the CCSD(T)/CBS limit for the π-π binding energy in the PD benzene dimer is De = -2.65 ± 0.02 kcal/mol. The best CCSD(T)/cc-pV5Z calculated value is -2.62 kcal/mol, just 0.03 kcal/mol away from the CBS limit. For comparison, the MP2/CBS limit estimate is -5.00 ± 0.01 kcal/mol, demonstrating a 90% overbinding with respect to CCSD(T). The spin-component-scaled (SCS) MP2 variant was found to closely reproduce the CCSD(T) results for each basis set, while scaled opposite spin (SOS) MP2 yielded results that are too low when compared to CCSD(T).

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