Recent progress in the theoretical treatment of electronically nonadiabatic processes is discussed. First we discuss the generalized Born–Oppenheimer approximation, which identifies a subset of strongly coupled states, and the relative advantages and disadvantages of adiabatic and diabatic representations of the coupled surfaces and their interactions are considered. Ab initio diabatic representations that do not require tracking geometric phases or calculating singular nonadiabatic nuclear momentum coupling will be presented as one promising approach for characterizing the coupled electronic states of polyatomic photochemical systems. Such representations can be accomplished by methods based on functionals of the adiabatic electronic density matrix and the identification of reference orbitals for use in an overlap criterion. Next, four approaches to calculating or modeling electronically nonadiabatic dynamics are discussed: (1) accurate quantum mechanical scattering calculations, (2) approximate wave packet methods, (3) surface hopping, and (4) self-consistent-potential semiclassical approaches. The last two of these are particularly useful for polyatomic photochemistry, and recent refinements of these approaches will be discussed. For example, considerable progress has been achieved in making the surface hopping method more applicable to the study of systems with weakly coupled electronic states. This includes introducing uncertainty principle considerations to alleviate the problem of classically forbidden surface hops and the development of an efficient sampling algorithm for low-probability events. A topic whose central importance in a number of quantum mechanical fields is becoming more widely appreciated is the introduction of decoherence into the quantal degrees of freedom to account for the effect of the classical treatment on the other degrees of freedom, and we discuss how the introduction of such decoherence into a self-consistent-potential approximation leads to a reasonably accurate but very practical trajectory method for electronically nonadiabatic processes. Finally, the performances of several dynamical methods for Landau–Zener-type and Rosen–Zener–Demkov-type reactive scattering problems are compared.
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