Ground- and excited-state geometry optimization of small organic molecules with quantum Monte Carlo

R. Guareschi, Claudia Filippi

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We present a comparative study of the geometry optimization in the gas phase of acrolein, acetone, methylenecyclopropene, and the propenoic acid anion with special emphasis on their excited-state structures, using quantum Monte Carlo (QMC), multireference perturbation theory (CASPT2 and NEVPT2), second-order approximate coupled cluster (CC2), and time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT). We find that, for all molecules, the geometries optimized with QMC in its simplest variational (VMC) flavor are in very good agreement with the perturbation results both in the ground and the excited states of either n → π* or π → π* character. Furthermore, the quality of the QMC structures is superior to those obtained with the CC2 method, which overestimates the CO bond in all n → π* excitations, or to the symmetry-adapted-cluster configuration interaction (SAC–CI) approach, which gives a poorer description of the CC bonds in the excited states. Finally, the spread in the TDDFT structures obtained with several current exchange-correlation functionals is large and does not reveal a clear relation between the defining features of the functionals and the quality of the optimized structures. In summary, our findings demonstrate the good performance of QMC in optimizing the geometries of these molecules, also in cases where other correlated or TDDFT approaches are inaccurate, and indicate that the method represents a robust reference approach for future structural studies also of larger systems
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)5513-5525
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of chemical theory and computation
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • IR-90071
  • METIS-299930

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