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Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2011 May 28;13(20):9796-811. doi: 10.1039/c1cp20221a. Epub 2011 Apr 12.

Is HO3 minimum cis or trans? An analytic full-dimensional ab initio isomerization path.

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Departmento de Química, Universidade de Coimbra, 3004-535 Coimbra, Portugal.


The minimum energy path for isomerization of HO(3) has been explored in detail using accurate high-level ab initio methods and techniques for extrapolation to the complete basis set limit. In agreement with other reports, the best estimates from both valence-only and all-electron single-reference methods here utilized predict the minimum of the cis-HO(3) isomer to be deeper than the trans-HO(3) one. They also show that the energy varies by less than 1 kcal mol(-1) or so over the full isomerization path. A similar result is found from valence-only multireference configuration interaction calculations with the size-extensive Davidson correction and a correlation consistent triple-zeta basis, which predict the energy difference between the two isomers to be of only Δ = -0.1 kcal mol(-1). However, single-point multireference calculations carried out at the optimum triple-zeta geometry with basis sets of the correlation consistent family but cardinal numbers up to X = 6 lead upon a dual-level extrapolation to the complete basis set limit of Δ = (0.12 ± 0.05) kcal mol(-1). In turn, extrapolations with the all-electron single-reference coupled-cluster method including the perturbative triples correction yield values of Δ = -0.19 and -0.03 kcal mol(-1) when done from triple-quadruple and quadruple-quintuple zeta pairs with two basis sets of increasing quality, namely cc-cpVXZ and aug-cc-pVXZ. Yet, if added a value of 0.25 kcal mol(-1) that accounts for the effect of triple and perturbative quadruple excitations with the VTZ basis set, one obtains a coupled cluster estimate of Δ = (0.14 ± 0.08) kcal mol(-1). It is then shown for the first time from systematic ab initio calculations that the trans-HO(3) isomer is more stable than the cis one, in agreement with the available experimental evidence. Inclusion of the best reported zero-point energy difference (0.382 kcal mol(-1)) from multireference configuration interaction calculations enhances further the relative stability to ΔE(ZPE) = (0.51 ± 0.08) kcal mol(-1). A scheme is also suggested to model the full-dimensional isomerization potential-energy surface using a quadratic expansion that is parametrically represented by a Fourier analysis in the torsion angle. The method illustrated at the raw and complete basis-set limit coupled-cluster levels can provide a valuable tool for a future analysis of the available (incomplete thus far) experimental rovibrational data.

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