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See detailElectronic charge rearrangement at metal/organic interfaces induced by weak van der Waals interactions
Ferri, Nicola; Ambrosetti, Alberto; Tkatchenko, Alexandre UL

in Physical Review Materials (2017), 1(1), 026003

Electronic charge rearrangements at interfaces between organic molecules and solid surfaces play a key role in a wide range of applications in catalysis, light-emitting diodes, single-molecule junctions ... [more ▼]

Electronic charge rearrangements at interfaces between organic molecules and solid surfaces play a key role in a wide range of applications in catalysis, light-emitting diodes, single-molecule junctions, molecular sensors and switches, and photovoltaics. It is common to utilize electrostatics and Pauli pushback to control the interface electronic properties, while the ubiquitous van der Waals (vdW) interactions are often considered to have a negligible direct contribution (beyond the obvious structural relaxation). Here, we apply a fully self-consistent Tkatchenko-Scheffler vdW density functional to demonstrate that the weak vdW interactions can induce sizable charge rearrangements at hybrid metal/organic systems (HMOS). The complex vdW correlation potential smears out the interfacial electronic density, thereby reducing the charge transfer in HMOS, changes the interface work functions by up to 0.2 eV, and increases the interface dipole moment by up to 0.3 Debye. Our results suggest that vdW interactions should be considered as an additional control parameter in the design of hybrid interfaces with the desired electronic properties. [less ▲]

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See detailCatalysis beyond frontier molecular orbitals: Selectivity in partial hydrogenation of multi-unsaturated hydrocarbons on metal catalysts
Liu, Wei; Jiang, Yingda; Dostert, Karl-Heinz et al

in Science Advances (2017), 3

The mechanistic understanding and control over transformations of multi-unsaturated hydrocarbons on transition metal surfaces remains one of the major challenges of hydrogenation catalysis. To reveal the ... [more ▼]

The mechanistic understanding and control over transformations of multi-unsaturated hydrocarbons on transition metal surfaces remains one of the major challenges of hydrogenation catalysis. To reveal the microscopic origins of hydrogenation chemoselectivity, we performed a comprehensive theoretical investigation on the reactivity of two a,b-unsaturated carbonyls—isophorone and acrolein—on seven (111) metal surfaces: Pd, Pt, Rh, Ir, Cu, Ag, and Au. In doing so, we uncover a general mechanism that goes beyond the celebrated frontier molecular orbital theory, rationalizing the C--C bond activation in isophorone and acrolein as a result of significant surface-induced broadening of high-energy inner molecular orbitals. By extending our calculations to hydrogen-precovered surface and higher adsorbate surface coverage, we further confirm the validity of the “inner orbital broadening mechanism” under realistic catalytic conditions. The proposed mechanism is fully supported by our experimental reaction studies for isophorone and acrolein over Pd nanoparticles terminated with (111) facets. Although the position of the frontier molecular orbitals in these molecules, which are commonly considered to be responsible for chemical interactions, suggests preferential hydrogenation of the C--O double bond, experiments show that hydrogenation occurs at the C--C bond on Pd catalysts. The extent of broadening of inner molecular orbitals might be used as a guiding principle to predict the chemoselectivity for a wide class of catalytic reactions at metal surfaces. [less ▲]

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See detailProperties of the water to boron nitride interaction: from zero to two dimensions with benchmark accuracy
Al-Hamdani, Yasmine UL; Rossi, Mariana; Alfè, Dario et al

in Journal of Chemical Physics (2017), 147

Molecular adsorption on surfaces plays an important part in catalysis, corrosion, desalination, and various other processes that are relevant to industry and in nature. As a complement to experiments ... [more ▼]

Molecular adsorption on surfaces plays an important part in catalysis, corrosion, desalination, and various other processes that are relevant to industry and in nature. As a complement to experiments, accurate adsorption energies can be obtained using various sophisticated electronic structure methods that can now be applied to periodic systems. The adsorption energy of water on boron nitride substrates, going from zero to 2-dimensional periodicity, is particularly interesting as it calls for an accurate treatment of polarizable electrostatics and dispersion interactions, as well as posing a practical challenge to experiments and electronic structure methods. Here, we present reference adsorption energies, static polarizabilities, and dynamic polarizabilities, for water on BN substrates of varying size and dimension. Adsorption energies are computed with coupled cluster theory, fixed-node quantum Monte Carlo (FNQMC), the random phase approximation, and second order Møller-Plesset theory. These wavefunction based correlated methods are found to agree in molecular as well as periodic systems. The best estimate of the water/h-BN adsorption energy is −107 ± 7 meV from FNQMC. In addition, the water adsorption energy on the BN substrates could be expected to grow monotonically with the size of the substrate due to increased dispersion interactions, but interestingly, this is not the case here. This peculiar finding is explained using the static polarizabilities and molecular dispersion coefficients of the systems, as computed from time-dependent density functional theory (DFT). Dynamic as well as static polarizabilities are found to be highly anisotropic in these systems. In addition, the many-body dispersion method in DFT emerges as a particularly useful estimation of finite size effects for other expensive, many-body wavefunction based methods. [less ▲]

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See detailLong-Range Repulsion Between Spatially Confined van der Waals Dimers
Sadhukhan, Mainak UL; Tkatchenko, Alexandre UL

in Physical Review Letters (2017), 118

It is an undisputed textbook fact that nonretarded van der Waals (vdW) interactions between isotropic dimers are attractive, regardless of the polarizability of the interacting systems or spatial ... [more ▼]

It is an undisputed textbook fact that nonretarded van der Waals (vdW) interactions between isotropic dimers are attractive, regardless of the polarizability of the interacting systems or spatial dimensionality. The universality of vdW attraction is attributed to the dipolar coupling between fluctuating electron charge densities. Here, we demonstrate that the long-range interaction between spatially confined vdW dimers becomes repulsive when accounting for the full Coulomb interaction between charge fluctuations. Our analytic results are obtained by using the Coulomb potential as a perturbation over dipole-correlated states for two quantum harmonic oscillators embedded in spaces with reduced dimensionality; however, the long-range repulsion is expected to be a general phenomenon for spatially confined quantum systems. We suggest optical experiments to test our predictions, analyze their relevance in the context of intermolecular interactions in nanoscale environments, and rationalize the recent observation of anomalously strong screening of the lateral vdW interactions between aromatic hydrocarbons adsorbed on metal surfaces. [less ▲]

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See detailNanoscale $\uppi$\textendash$\uppi$ stacked molecules are bound by collective charge fluctuations
Hermann, Jan; Alfè, Dario; Tkatchenko, Alexandre UL

in Nature Communications (2017), 8

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See detailFirst-Principles Models for van der Waals Interactions in Molecules and Materials: Concepts, Theory, and Applications
Hermann, Jan; DiStasio Jr.; Tkatchenko, Alexandre UL

in Chemical Reviews (2017), 117

Noncovalent van der Waals (vdW) or dispersion forces are ubiquitous in nature and influence the structure, stability, dynamics, and function of molecules and materials throughout chemistry, biology ... [more ▼]

Noncovalent van der Waals (vdW) or dispersion forces are ubiquitous in nature and influence the structure, stability, dynamics, and function of molecules and materials throughout chemistry, biology, physics, and materials science. These forces are quantum mechanical in origin and arise from electrostatic interactions between fluctuations in the electronic charge density. Here, we explore the conceptual and mathematical ingredients required for an exact treatment of vdW interactions, and present a systematic and unified framework for classifying the current first-principles vdW methods based on the adiabatic-connection fluctuation−dissipation (ACFD) theorem (namely the Rutgers−Chalmers vdW-DF, Vydrov−Van Voorhis (VV), exchange-hole dipole moment (XDM), Tkatchenko−Scheffler (TS), many-body dispersion (MBD), and random-phase approximation (RPA) approaches). Particular attention is paid to the intriguing nature of many-body vdW interactions, whose fundamental relevance has recently been highlighted in several landmark experiments. The performance of these models in predicting binding energetics as well as structural, electronic, and thermodynamic properties is connected with the theoretical concepts and provides a numerical summary of the state-of-the-art in the field. We conclude with a roadmap of the conceptual, methodological, practical, and numerical challenges that remain in obtaining a universally applicable and truly predictive vdW method for realistic molecular systems and materials. [less ▲]

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See detailPhysical adsorption at the nanoscale: Towards controllable scaling of the substrate-adsorbate van der Waals interaction
Ambrosetti, Alberto; Silvestrelli, Pier Luigi; Tkatchenko, Alexandre UL

in Physical Review. B : Condensed Matter (2017), 95(1), 235417

The Lifshitz-Zaremba-Kohn (LZK) theory is commonly considered as the correct large-distance limit for the van der Waals (vdW) interaction of adsorbates (atoms, molecules, or nanoparticles) with solid ... [more ▼]

The Lifshitz-Zaremba-Kohn (LZK) theory is commonly considered as the correct large-distance limit for the van der Waals (vdW) interaction of adsorbates (atoms, molecules, or nanoparticles) with solid substrates. In the standard approximate form, implicitly based on local dielectric functions, the LZK approach predicts universal power laws for vdW interactions depending only on the dimensionality of the interacting objects. However, recent experimental findings are challenging the universality of this theoretical approach at finite distances of relevance for nanoscale assembly. Here, we present a combined analytical and numerical many-body study demonstrating that physical adsorption can be significantly enhanced at the nanoscale. Regardless of the band gap or the nature of the adsorbate specie, we find deviations from conventional LZK power laws that extend to separation distances of up to 10–20 nm. Comparison with recent experimental observations of ultra-long-ranged vdW interactions in the delamination of graphene from a silicon substrate reveals qualitative agreement with the present theory. The sensitivity of vdW interactions to the substrate response and to the adsorbate characteristic excitation frequency also suggests that adsorption strength can be effectively tuned in experiments, paving the way to an improved control of physical adsorption at the nanoscale. [less ▲]

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See detailMolecular Seesaw: Intricate Dynamics and Versatile Chemistry of Heteroaromatics on Metal Surfaces
Filimonov, Sergey N.; Liu, Wei; Tkatchenko, Alexandre UL

in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters (2017), 8

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See detailUnifying Microscopic and Continuum Treatments of van der Waals and Casimir Interactions
Venkataram, Prashanth S.; Hermann, Jan; Tkatchenko, Alexandre UL et al

in Physical Review Letters (2017), 118(1), 266802

We present an approach for computing long-range van der Waals (vdW) interactions between complex molecular systems and arbitrarily shaped macroscopic bodies, melding atomistic treatments of electronic ... [more ▼]

We present an approach for computing long-range van der Waals (vdW) interactions between complex molecular systems and arbitrarily shaped macroscopic bodies, melding atomistic treatments of electronic fluctuations based on density functional theory in the former with continuum descriptions of strongly shape dependent electromagnetic fields in the latter, thus capturing many-body and multiple scattering effects to all orders. Such a theory is especially important when considering vdW interactions at mesoscopic scales, i.e., between molecules and structured surfaces with features on the scale of molecular sizes, in which case the finite sizes, complex shapes, and resulting nonlocal electronic excitations of molecules are strongly influenced by electromagnetic retardation and wave effects that depend crucially on the shapes of surrounding macroscopic bodies. We show that these effects together can modify vdW interaction energies and forces, as well as molecular shapes deformed by vdW interactions, by orders of magnitude compared to previous treatments based on Casimir-Polder, nonretarded, or pairwise approximations, which are valid only at macroscopically large or atomic-scale separations or in dilute insulating media, respectively. [less ▲]

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See detailStrong Local-Field Enhancement of the Nonlinear Soft-Mode Response in a Molecular Crystal
Folpini, Giulia; Reimann, Klaus; Woerner, Michael et al

in Physical Review Letters (2017), 119

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See detailQuantum-chemical insights from deep tensor neural networks
Schütt, Kristof T.; Arbabzadah, Farhad; Chmiela, Stefan et al

in Nature Communications (2017), 8

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See detailTuning the work function of stepped metal surfaces by adsorption of organic molecules
Jiang, Yingda; Li, Jingtai; Su, Guirong et al

in Journal of Physics : Condensed Matter (2017), 29

Understanding the binding mechanisms for aromatic molecules on transition-metal surfaces, especially with defects such as vacancies, steps and kinks, is a major challenge in designing functional ... [more ▼]

Understanding the binding mechanisms for aromatic molecules on transition-metal surfaces, especially with defects such as vacancies, steps and kinks, is a major challenge in designing functional interfaces for organic devices. One important parameter in the performance of organic/inorganic devices is the barrier of charge carrier injection. In the case of a metallic electrode, tuning the electronic interface potential or the work function for electronic level alignment is crucial. Here, we use density-functional theory (DFT) calculations with van der Waals (vdW) interactions treated with both screened pairwise (vdWsurf) and many-body dispersion (MBD) methods, to systematically study the interactions of benzene with a variety of stepped surfaces. Our calculations confirm the physisorptive character of Ag(2 1 1), Ag(5 3 3), Ag(3 2 2), Ag(7 5 5) and Ag(5 4 4) surfaces upon the adsorption of benzene. The MBD effects reduce the adsorption energies by about 0.15 eV per molecule compared to the results from the DFT + vdWsurf method. In addition, we find that the higher the step density, the larger the reduction of the work function upon the adsorption of benzene. We also study the effect of vdW interactions on the electronic structure using a fully selfconsistent implementation of the vdWsurf method in the Kohn–Sham DFT framework. We find that the self-consistent vdWsurf effects increase the work function due to the lowered Fermi level and the increased vacuum level. As a result, the benzene/Ag(2 1 1) system has the lowest work function (3.67 eV) among the five adsorption systems, significantly smaller than the work function of the clean Ag(1 1 1) surface (4.74 eV). Our results provide important insights into the stability and electronic properties of molecules adsorbed on stepped metal surfaces, which could help in designing more appropriate interfaces with low work functions for electron transfer. [less ▲]

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See detailMachine learning of accurate energy-conserving molecular force fields
Chmiela, Stefan; Tkatchenko, Alexandre UL; Sauceda, Huziel et al

in Science Advances (2017), 3

Using conservation of energy—a fundamental property of closed classical and quantum mechanical systems— we develop an efficient gradient-domain machine learning (GDML) approach to construct accurate ... [more ▼]

Using conservation of energy—a fundamental property of closed classical and quantum mechanical systems— we develop an efficient gradient-domain machine learning (GDML) approach to construct accurate molecular force fields using a restricted number of samples from ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) trajectories. The GDML implementation is able to reproduce global potential energy surfaces of intermediate-sized molecules with an accuracy of 0.3 kcal mol−1 for energies and 1 kcal mol−1 Å−1 for atomic forces using only 1000 conformational geometries for training. We demonstrate this accuracy for AIMD trajectories of molecules, including benzene, toluene, naphthalene, ethanol, uracil, and aspirin. The challenge of constructing conservative force fields is accomplished in our work by learning in a Hilbert space of vector-valued functions that obey the law of energy conservation. The GDML approach enables quantitative molecular dynamics simulations for molecules at a fraction of cost of explicit AIMD calculations, thereby allowing the construction of efficient force fields with the accuracy and transferability of high-level ab initio methods. [less ▲]

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See detailPowder diffraction and crystal structure prediction identify four new coumarin polymorphs
Shtukenberg, Alexander G.; Zhu, Qiang; Carter, Damien J. et al

in Chemical Science (2017)

Coumarin, a simple, commodity chemical isolated from beans in 1820, has, to date, only yielded one solid state structure. Here, we report a rich polymorphism of coumarin grown from the melt. Four new ... [more ▼]

Coumarin, a simple, commodity chemical isolated from beans in 1820, has, to date, only yielded one solid state structure. Here, we report a rich polymorphism of coumarin grown from the melt. Four new metastable forms were identified and their crystal structures were solved using a combination of computational crystal structure prediction algorithms and X-ray powder diffraction. With five crystal structures, coumarin has become one of the few rigid molecules showing extensive polymorphism at ambient conditions. We demonstrate the crucial role of advanced electronic structure calculations including many-body dispersion effects for accurate ranking of the stability of coumarin polymorphs and the need to account for anharmonic vibrational contributions to their free energy. As such, coumarin is a model system for studying weak intermolecular interactions, crystallization mechanisms, and kinetic effects. [less ▲]

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See detailFirst-principles modeling of molecular crystals: structures and stabilities, temperature and pressure
Hoja, Johannes UL; Reilly, Anthony M.; Tkatchenko, Alexandre UL

in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Computational Molecular Science (2016)

The understanding of the structure, stability, and response properties of molecular crystals at finite temperature and pressure is crucial for the field of crystal engineering and their application. For a ... [more ▼]

The understanding of the structure, stability, and response properties of molecular crystals at finite temperature and pressure is crucial for the field of crystal engineering and their application. For a long time, the field of crystal-structure prediction and modeling of molecular crystals has been dominated by classical mechanistic force-field methods. However, due to increasing computational power and the development of more sophisticated quantum-mechanical approximations, first-principles approaches based on density functional theory can now be applied to practically relevant molecular crystals. The broad transferability of first-principles methods is especially imperative for polymorphic molecular crystals. This review highlights the current status of modeling molecular crystals from first principles. We give an overview of current state-of-the-art approaches and discuss in detail the main challenges and necessary approximations. So far, the main focus in this field has been on calculating stabilities and structures without considering thermal contributions. We discuss techniques that allow one to include thermal effects at a first-principles level in the harmonic or quasi-harmonic approximation, and that are already applicable to realistic systems, or will be in the near future. Furthermore, this review also discusses how to calculate vibrational and elastic properties. Finally, we present a perspective on future uses of first-principles calculations for modeling molecular crystals and summarize the many remaining challenges in this field. [less ▲]

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See detailTuning Intermolecular Interactions with Nanostructured Environments
Chattopadhyaya, Mausumi; Hermann, Jan; Poltavsky, Igor et al

in Chemistry of Materials (2016), ASAP

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See detailWavelike charge density fluctuations and van der Waals interactions at the nanoscale
Ambrosetti, Alberto; Ferri, Nicola; DiStasio Jr., Robert A. et al

in Science (2016), 351(6278), 1171-1176

Recent experiments on noncovalent interactions at the nanoscale have challenged the basic assumptions of commonly used particle- or fragment-based models for describing van der Waals (vdW) or dispersion ... [more ▼]

Recent experiments on noncovalent interactions at the nanoscale have challenged the basic assumptions of commonly used particle- or fragment-based models for describing van der Waals (vdW) or dispersion forces. We demonstrate that a qualitatively correct description of the vdW interactions between polarizable nanostructures over a wide range of finite distances can only be attained by accounting for the wavelike nature of charge density fluctuations. By considering a diverse set of materials and biological systems with markedly different dimensionalities, topologies, and polarizabilities, we find a visible enhancement in the nonlocality of the charge density response in the range of 10 to 20 nanometers. These collective wavelike fluctuations are responsible for the emergence of nontrivial modifications of the power laws that govern noncovalent interactions at the nanoscale. [less ▲]

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See detailModeling quantum nuclei with perturbed path integral molecular dynamics
Poltavsky, Igor; Tkatchenko, Alexandre UL

in Chemical Science (2016), 7(2), 1368-1372

The quantum nature of nuclear motions plays a vital role in the structure, stability, and thermodynamics of molecules and materials. The standard approach to model nuclear quantum fluctuations in chemical ... [more ▼]

The quantum nature of nuclear motions plays a vital role in the structure, stability, and thermodynamics of molecules and materials. The standard approach to model nuclear quantum fluctuations in chemical and biological systems is to use path-integral molecular dynamics. Unfortunately, conventional path-integral simulations can have an exceedingly large computational cost due to the need to employ an excessive number of coupled classical subsystems (beads) for quantitative accuracy. Here, we combine perturbation theory with the Feynman-Kac imaginary-time path integral approach to quantum mechanics and derive an improved non-empirical partition function and estimators to calculate converged quantum observables. Our perturbed path-integral (PPI) method requires the same ingredients as the conventional approach but increases the accuracy and efficiency of path integral simulations by an order of magnitude. Results are presented for the thermodynamics of fundamental model systems, an empirical water model containing 256 water molecules within periodic boundary conditions, and ab initio simulations of nitrogen and benzene molecules. For all of these examples, PPI simulations with 4 to 8 classical beads recover the nuclear quantum contribution to the total energy and heat capacity at room temperature within a 3 accuracy, paving the way toward seamless modeling of nuclear quantum effects in realistic molecules and materials. [less ▲]

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See detailCommunication: Many-body stabilization of non-covalent interactions: Structure, stability, and mechanics of Ag3Co(CN)6 framework
Liu, Xiaofei; Hermann, Jan; Tkatchenko, Alexandre UL

in The Journal of Chemical Physics (2016), 145(24), 241101

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See detailDensity-functional theory with screened van der Waals interactions applied to atomic and molecular adsorbates on close-packed and non-close-packed surfaces
Ruiz, Victor G.; Liu, Wei; Tkatchenko, Alexandre UL

in PHYSICAL REVIEW B (2016), 93(3),

Modeling the adsorption of atoms and molecules on surfaces requires efficient electronic-structure methods that are able to capture both covalent and noncovalent interactions in a reliable manner. In ... [more ▼]

Modeling the adsorption of atoms and molecules on surfaces requires efficient electronic-structure methods that are able to capture both covalent and noncovalent interactions in a reliable manner. In order to tackle this problem, we have developed a method within density-functional theory (DFT) to model screened van der Waals interactions (vdW) for atoms and molecules on surfaces (the so-called DFT+vdW(surf) method). The relatively high accuracy of the DFT+vdW(surf) method in the calculation of both adsorption distances and energies, as well as the high degree of its reliability across a wide range of adsorbates, indicates the importance of the collective electronic effects within the extended substrate for the calculation of the vdW energy tail. We examine in detail the theoretical background of the method and assess its performance for adsorption phenomena including the physisorption of Xe on selected close-packed transition metal surfaces and 3,4,9,10-perylene-tetracarboxylic acid dianhydride (PTCDA) on Au(111). We also address the performance of DFT+vdW(surf) in the case of non-close-packed surfaces by studying the adsorption of Xe on Cu(110) and the interfaces formed by the adsorption of a PTCDA monolayer on the Ag(111), Ag(100), and Ag(110) surfaces. We conclude by discussing outstanding challenges in the modeling of vdW interactions for studying atomic and molecular adsorbates on inorganic substrates. [less ▲]

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