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J Chem Phys. 2006 Sep 28;125(12):124105.

On the short-time limit of ring polymer molecular dynamics.

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  • 1Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA.


We examine the short-time accuracy of a class of approximate quantum dynamical techniques that includes the centroid molecular dynamics (CMD) and ring polymer molecular dynamics (RPMD) methods. Both of these methods are based on the path integral molecular dynamics (PIMD) technique for calculating the exact static equilibrium properties of quantum mechanical systems. For Kubo-transformed real-time correlation functions involving operators that are linear functions of positions or momenta, the RPMD and (adiabatic) CMD approximations differ only in the choice of the artificial mass matrix of the system of ring polymer beads that is employed in PIMD. The obvious ansatz for a general method of this type is therefore to regard the elements of the PIMD (or Parrinello-Rahman) mass matrix as an adjustable set of parameters that can be chosen to improve the accuracy of the resulting approximation. We show here that this ansatz leads uniquely to the RPMD approximation when the criterion that is used to select the mass matrix is the short-time accuracy of the Kubo-transformed correlation function. In particular, we show that the leading error in the RPMD position autocorrelation function is O(t(8)) and the error in the velocity autocorrelation function is O(t(6)), for a general anharmonic potential. The corresponding errors in the CMD approximation are O(t(6)) and O(t(4)), respectively.

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