Accuracy of geometries: Influence of basis set, exchange-correlation potential, inclusion of core electrons, and relativistic corrections

M. Swart, J.G. Snijders

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The geometries of a set of small molecules were optimized using eight different exchange-correlation (xc) potentials in a few different basis sets of Slater-type orbitals, ranging from a minimal basis (I) to a triple-zeta valence basis plus double polarization functions (VII). This enables a comparison of the accuracy of the xc potentials in a certain basis set, which can be related to the accuracies of wavefunction-based methods such as Hartree-Fock and coupled cluster. Four different checks are done on the accuracy by looking at the mean error, standard deviation, mean absolute error and maximum error. It is shown that the mean absolute error decreases with increasing basis set size, and reaches a basis set limit at basis VI. With this basis set, the mean absolute errors of the xc potentials are of the order of 0.7-1.3 pm. This is comparable to the accuracy obtained with CCSD and MP2/MP3 methods, but is still larger than the accuracy of the CCSD(T) method (0.2 pm). The best performing xc potentials are found to be Becke-Perdew, PBE and PW91, which perform as well as the hybrid B3LYP potential. In the second part of this paper, we report the optimization of the geometries of five metallocenes with the same potentials and basis sets, either in a nonrelativistic or a scalar relativistic calculation using the zeroth-order regular approximation approach. For the first-row transition-metal complexes, the relativistic corrections have a negligible effect on the optimized structures, but for ruthenocene they improve the optimized Ru-ring distance by some 1.4-2.2 pm. In the largest basis set used, the absolute mean error is again of the order of 1.0 pm. As the wavefunction-based methods either give a poor performance for metallocenes (Hartree-Fock, MP2), or the size of the system makes a treatment with accurate methods such as CCSD(T) in a reasonable basis set cumbersome, the good performance of density functional theory calculations for these molecules is very promising; even more so as density functional theory is an efficient method that can be used without problems on systems of this size, or larger.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-41
Number of pages7
JournalTheoretical Chemistry Accounts
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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