The excited-state relaxation of retinal protonated Schiff bases (PSBs) is an important test case for biological applications of time-dependent (TD) density-functional theory (DFT). While well-known shortcomings of approximate TD-DFT might seem discouraging for application to PSB relaxation, progress continues to be made in the development of new functionals and of criteria allowing problematic excitations to be identified within the framework of TD-DFT itself. Furthermore, experimental and theoretical ab initio advances have recently lead to a revised understanding of retinal PSB photochemistry, calling for a reappraisal of the performance of TD-DFT in describing this prototypical photoactive system. Here, we re-investigate the performance of functionals in (TD-)DFT calculations in light of these new benchmark results, which we extend to larger PSB models. We focus on the ability of the functionals to describe primarily the early skeletal relaxation of the chromophore and investigate how far along the out-of-plane pathways these functionals are able to describe the subsequent rotation around formal single and double bonds. Conventional global hybrid and range-separated hybrid functionals are investigated as the presence of Hartree-Fock exchange reduces problems with charge-transfer excitations as determined by the Peach-Benfield-Helgaker-Tozer Λ criterion and by comparison with multi-reference perturbation theory results. While we confirm that most functionals cannot render the complex photobehavior of the retinal PSB, do we also observe that LC-BLYP gives the best description of the initial part of the photoreaction.
Valsson, O., Filippi, C., & Casida, M. E. (2015). Regarding the use and misuse of retinal protonated Schiff base photochemistry as a test case for time-dependent density-functional theory. Journal of chemical physics, 142(144104), 144104-. . https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4916354