Evaluation of density functional theory for a large and diverse set of organic and inorganic equilibrium structures

Amir Karton, Peter R. Spackman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)
73 Downloads (Pure)


Density functional theory (DFT) has been extensively benchmarked for energetic properties; however, less attention has been given to equilibrium structures and the effect of using a certain DFT geometry on subsequent energetic properties. We evaluate the performance of 52 contemporary DFT methods for obtaining the structures of 122 species in the W4-11-GEOM database. This dataset includes a total of 246 unique bonds: 117 H─X, 65 X─Y, 49 X═Y, and 15 X═Y bonds (where X and Y are first- and second-row atoms) and 133 key bond angles: 96 X-Y-H, 22 X-Y-Z, and 15 H-X-H angles. The reference geometries are optimized at the CCSD(T)/jul-cc-pV(n+d)Z level of theory (n = 5, 6). The performance of DFT is evaluated in conjunction with the Def2-nZVPP (n = T, Q), cc-pV(T+d)Z, and jul-cc-pV(T+d)Z basis sets. The root-mean-square deviations (RMSDs) over the bond distances of the best performing functionals from each rung of Jacob's Ladder are 0.0086 (SOGGA11), 0.0088 (τ-HCTH), 0.0059 (B3LYP), 0.0054 (TPSSh), and 0.0032 (DSD-PBEP86) Å. We evaluate the effect of the choice of the DFT geometry on subsequent molecular energies calculated with W1-F12 theory. Geometries obtained with GGA and MGGA methods result in large RMSDs in the subsequent W1-F12 energies; however, six hybrid GGA functionals (B3LYP, B3P86, mPW3PBE, B3PW91, mPW1LYP, and X3LYP) result in an excellent performance with RMSDs between 0.25 and 0.30 kJ mol−1 relative to the CCSD(T)/CBS reference geometries. The B2GP-PLYP and mPW2-PLYP DHDFT methods result in near-CCSD(T) accuracy with RMSDs of 0.11 and 0.10 kJ mol−1, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1590-1601
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Computational Chemistry
Issue number22
Early online date13 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2021


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