Multicomponent density functional theory embedding formulation

Tanner Culpitt, Kurt R. Brorsen, Michael V. Pak, Sharon Hammes-Schiffer

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21 Scopus citations


Multicomponent density functional theory (DFT) methods have been developed to treat two types of particles, such as electrons and nuclei, quantum mechanically at the same level. In the nuclear-electronic orbital (NEO) approach, all electrons and select nuclei, typically key protons, are treated quantum mechanically. For multicomponent DFT methods developed within the NEO framework, electron-proton correlation functionals based on explicitly correlated wavefunctions have been designed and used in conjunction with well-established electronic exchange-correlation functionals. Herein a general theory for multicomponent embedded DFT is developed to enable the accurate treatment of larger systems. In the general theory, the total electronic density is separated into two subsystem densities, denoted as regular and special, and different electron-proton correlation functionals are used for these two electronic densities. In the specific implementation, the special electron density is defined in terms of spatially localized Kohn-Sham electronic orbitals, and electron-proton correlation is included only for the special electron density. The electron-proton correlation functional depends on only the special electron density and the proton density, whereas the electronic exchange-correlation functional depends on the total electronic density. This scheme includes the essential electron-proton correlation, which is a relatively local effect, as well as the electronic exchange-correlation for the entire system. This multicomponent DFT-in-DFT embedding theory is applied to the HCN and FHF- molecules in conjunction with two different electron-proton correlation functionals and three different electronic exchange-correlation functionals. The results illustrate that this approach provides qualitatively accurate nuclear densities in a computationally tractable manner. The general theory is also easily extended to other types of partitioning schemes for multicomponent systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number044106
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 28 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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