Application of Self-Interaction Corrected Density Functional Theory to Early, Middle, and Late Transition States

Lin Li, Kai Trepte, Koblar A. Jackson, J. Karl Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Density functional theory (DFT)-based methods often significantly underpredict chemical reaction barriers compared with experiments because of the tendency of DFT to overstabilize transition states with stretched bonds due to the impact of unphysical electron self-interaction. However, many reactions have early or late transition states where the transition state geometry closely resembles the reactants or products, respectively. The role of self-interaction in those cases is not known. Here we compare the performance of DFT with and without self-interaction correction (SIC) for describing the hydrogenation of CO and CO2 catalyzed by a Lewis acid-base pair incorporated onto an aromatic cluster, using CCSD(T) results for reference. The three elementary steps in these reactions consist of an early, a middle, and a late transition. Our results show that the Perdew-Zunger SIC (PZ-SIC), implemented in the Fermi-Löwdin orbital SIC (FLO-SIC) approach, qualitatively improves the description of the forward and reverse reaction barriers relative to uncorrected DFT for the middle transition but not the early or late transitions. By contrast, the local scaling SIC (LSIC) method, also implemented in the FLO-SIC framework, significantly improves the calculated barriers over DFT and PZ-SIC in all but one case. The results also show how the FLO-SIC approach can provide insight into the bonding in aromatic systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8223-8234
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 8 2020


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