Explaining and Fixing DFT Failures for Torsional Barriers

Seungsoo Nam, Eunbyol Cho, Eunji Sim, Kieron Burke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Most torsional barriers are predicted with high accuracies (about 1 kJ/mol) by standard semilocal functionals, but a small subset was found to have much larger errors. We created a database of almost 300 carbon-carbon torsional barriers, including 12 poorly behaved barriers, that stem from the Yâ• C-X group, where Y is O or S and X is a halide. Functionals with enhanced exchange mixing (about 50%) worked well for all barriers. We found that poor actors have delocalization errors caused by hyperconjugation. These problematic calculations are density-sensitive (i.e., DFT predictions change noticeably with the density), and using HF densities (HF-DFT) fixes these issues. For example, conventional B3LYP performs as accurately as exchange-enhanced functionals if the HF density is used. For long-chain conjugated molecules, HF-DFT can be much better than exchange-enhanced functionals. We suggest that HF-PBE0 has the best overall performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2796-2804
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Mar 25

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Chemical Society.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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