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Development and Applications of Advanced Electronic Structure Methods

  • Author(s): Bell, Franziska
  • Advisor(s): Head-Gordon, Martin P
  • et al.
Abstract

This dissertation contributes to three different areas in electronic structure theory. The first part of this thesis advances the fundamentals of orbital active spaces. Orbital active spaces are not only essential in multi-reference approaches, but have also become of interest in single-reference methods as they allow otherwise intractably large systems to be studied. However, despite their great importance, the optimal choice and, more importantly, their physical significance are still not fully understood. In order to address this problem, we studied the higher-order singular value decomposition (HOSVD) in the context of electronic structure methods. We were able to gain a physical understanding of the resulting orbitals and proved a connection to unrelaxed natural orbitals in the case of Moller-Plesset perturbation theory to second order (MP2). In the quest to find the optimal choice of the active space, we proposed a HOSVD for energy-weighted integrals, which yielded the fastest convergence in MP2 correlation energy for small- to medium-sized active spaces to date, and is also potentially transferable to coupled-cluster theory.

In the second part, we studied monomeric and dimeric glycerol radical cations and their photo-induced dissociation in collaboration with Prof. Leone and his group. Understanding the mechanistic details involved in these processes are essential for further studies on the combustion of glycerol and carbohydrates. To our surprise, we found that in most cases, the experimentally observed appearance energies arise from the separation of product fragments from one another rather than rearrangement to products.

The final chapters of this work focus on the development, assessment, and application of the spin-flip method, which is a single-reference approach, but capable of describing multi-reference problems. Systems exhibiting multi-reference character, which arises from the (near-) degeneracy of orbital energies, are amongst the most interesting in chemistry, biology and materials science, yet amongst the most challenging to study with electronic structure methods. In particular, we explored a substituted dimeric BPBP molecule with potential tetraradical character, which gained attention as one of the most promising candidates for an organic conductor. Furthermore, we extended the spin-flip approach to include variable orbital active spaces and multiple spin-flips. This allowed us to perform wave-function-based studies of ground- and excited-states of polynuclear metal complexes, polyradicals, and bond-dissociation processes involving three or more bonds.

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