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Issue 36, 2018
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Semi-empirical or non-empirical double-hybrid density functionals: which are more robust?

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The development of non-empirical double-hybrid density functionals (DHDFs) is a very active research area with the number of approaches in this field having increased rapidly. At the same time, there is a lack of published work that provides a fair assessment and comparison between non-empirical and semi-empirical DHDFs on an equal footing. Herein, we close this gap and present a thorough analysis of both classes of DHDFs on the large GMTKN55 benchmark database for general main-group thermochemistry, kinetics, and noncovalent interactions [Goerigk et al., Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2017, 19, 32184–32215]. In total, 115 variations of dispersion-corrected and -uncorrected DHDFs are tested, which will be condensed to an in-depth assessment of 31 methods: 19 non-empirical and 12 semi-empirical DHDFs. As such, our study represents the largest DHDF study ever conducted and can serve as an important benchmark informing method developers and users alike. Our results show that semi-empirical DHDFs are the most robust density functional approximations and more reliable and accurate than non-empirical ones. In fact, some non-empirical approaches are even outperformed by hybrid approaches or even dispersion-corrected and -uncorrected MP2 and SCS-MP2. SOS0-PBE0-2-D3(BJ) is the only exception and the only non-empirical DHDF that we can safely recommend for general applicability. However, it is still outperformed by six semi-empirical DHDFs, of which we would like to particularly recommend the following five: ωB97X-2-D3(BJ), DSD-BLYP-D3(BJ), DSD-PBEP86-D3(BJ), B2NC-PLYP-D3(BJ), and B2GPPLYP-D3(BJ). Our findings seriously question current trends in the field and they highlight that novel strategies have to be found in order to outperform the currently best density functional theory methods on the market. We hope that our study can function as an important cornerstone inspiring such a change of direction in the field.

Graphical abstract: Semi-empirical or non-empirical double-hybrid density functionals: which are more robust?

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Supplementary files

Article information

18 Jun 2018
23 Jul 2018
First published
23 Jul 2018

Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2018,20, 23175-23194
Article type

Semi-empirical or non-empirical double-hybrid density functionals: which are more robust?

N. Mehta, M. Casanova-Páez and L. Goerigk, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2018, 20, 23175
DOI: 10.1039/C8CP03852J

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