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J Chem Phys. 2015 Aug 7;143(5):054506. doi: 10.1063/1.4927325.

Probing the structural and dynamical properties of liquid water with models including non-local electron correlation.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.
Department of Materials, ETH Zurich, Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 27, CH-8093 Zurich, Switzerland.


Water is a ubiquitous liquid that displays a wide range of anomalous properties and has a delicate structure that challenges experiment and simulation alike. The various intermolecular interactions that play an important role, such as repulsion, polarization, hydrogen bonding, and van der Waals interactions, are often difficult to reproduce faithfully in atomistic models. Here, electronic structure theories including all these interactions at equal footing, which requires the inclusion of non-local electron correlation, are used to describe structure and dynamics of bulk liquid water. Isobaric-isothermal (NpT) ensemble simulations based on the Random Phase Approximation (RPA) yield excellent density (0.994 g/ml) and fair radial distribution functions, while various other density functional approximations produce scattered results (0.8-1.2 g/ml). Molecular dynamics simulation in the microcanonical (NVE) ensemble based on Møller-Plesset perturbation theory (MP2) yields dynamical properties in the condensed phase, namely, the infrared spectrum and diffusion constant. At the MP2 and RPA levels of theory, ice is correctly predicted to float on water, resolving one of the anomalies as resulting from a delicate balance between van der Waals and hydrogen bonding interactions. For several properties, obtaining quantitative agreement with experiment requires correction for nuclear quantum effects (NQEs), highlighting their importance, for structure, dynamics, and electronic properties. A computed NQE shift of 0.6 eV for the band gap and absorption spectrum illustrates the latter. Giving access to both structure and dynamics of condensed phase systems, non-local electron correlation will increasingly be used to study systems where weak interactions are of paramount importance.

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