Unraveling actinide–actinide bonding in fullerene cages: a DFT versus ab initio methodological study†
Actinide–actinide bonding poses a challenge for both experimental and theoretical chemists because of both the scarcity of experimental data and the exotic nature of actinide bonding due to the involvement and mixing of actinide 7s-, 6p-, 6d-, and particularly 5f-orbitals. Only a few experimental examples of An–An bonding have been reported so far. Here, we perform a methodological study of actinide–actinide bonding on experimentally known Th2@C80 and U2@C80 systems. We compared selected GGA, meta-GGA, hybrid-GGA and range-separated hybrid-GGA functionals with the results obtained using a multireference CASPT2 method, which we consider as a reference point. We show that functionals such as BP86, PBE or TPSS perform well for predicting geometries, while range-separated hybrids are superior in the description of the chemical bonding. None of the tested functionals were deemed reliable regarding the correct electronic spin ground state. Based on the results of this methodological study, we re-evaluate selected previously studied diactinide fullerene systems using more reliable protocol.