Potential Energy Surface, Density Functional Theory, Transition Metal Systems, Electronic Structure, Metal Nanoclusters, Spin-Contamination Correction


This dissertation focuses on computational study of the geometry and energetics small molecules and nanoclusters involving transition metals (TM). These clusters may be used for various industrial applications including catalysis and photonics. Specifically, in this work we have studied hydrides and carbides of 3d-transition metal systems (Sc through Cu), small nickel and gold clusters. Qualitatively correct description of the bond dissociation is ensured by allowing the spatial and spin symmetry to break. We have tested applicability of new exchange-correlation functional and alternative theoretical descriptions (spin-contamination correction in broken symmetry DFT and ensemble Kohn-Sham (EKS)) as well. We studies TM hydrides and carbides systems to understand the importance of underlying phenomenon of bond breaking in catalytic processes. We have tested several exchange-correlation functionals including explicit dependence on kinetic energy density for the description of hydrides (both neutral and cationic) and carbides formed by 3d-transition metals. We find M05-2x and BMK dissociation energies are in better agreement with experiment (where available) than those obtained with high level wavefunction theory methods, published previously. This agreement with experiment deteriorates quickly for other functionals when the fraction of the Hartree-Fock exchange in DFT functional is decreased. Higher fraction of HF exchange is also essential in EKS formalism, but it does not help when spin-adapted unrestricted approach is employed. We analyze the electron spin densities using Natural Bond Orbital population analysis and find that simple description of 3d electrons as non-bonding in character is rarely correct. Unrestricted formalism results in appreciable spin-contamination for some of the systems at equilibrium, which motivated us to investigate it further in details. In order to correct the spin contamination effect on the energies, we propose a new scheme to correct for spin contamination arising in broken-symmetry DFT approach. Unlike conventional schemes, our spin correction is introduced for each spin-polarized electron pair individually and therefore is expected to yield more accurate energy values. We derive an expression to extract the energy of the pure singlet state from the energy of the broken-symmetry DFT description of the low spin state and the energies of the high spin states (pentuplet and two spin-contaminated triplets in the case of two spin-polarized electron pairs). We validate our spin-contamination correction approach by a simple example of H2 and applied to more complex MnH system. Ensemble KS formalism is also applied to investigate the dissociation of C2 molecule. We find that high fraction of HF exchange is essential to reproduce the results of EKS treatment with exact exchange-correlation functional. We analyze the geometry and energetics of small nickel clusters (Ni2-Ni5) for several lowest energy isomers. We also study all possible spin states of small nickel cluster isomers and report observed trends in energetics. Finally we determine the geometry and energetics of ten lowest energy isomers of four small gold clusters (Au2, Au4, Au6, and Au8). We have also investigated the influence of cluster geometry, ligation, solvation and relativistic effects on electronic structure of these gold clusters. The effect of one-by-one ligand attachment in vacuum and solvent environment is also studied. Performance of five DFT functionals are tested as well; Local Spin Density Approximation (SVWN5), Generalized Gradient Approximation (PBE), kinetic energy density-dependent functional (TPSS), hybrid DFT (B3LYP), and CAM-B3LYP which accounts for long-range exchange effects believed to be important in the analysis of metal bonding in gold complexes and clusters. Our results exhibit the ligand induced stability enhancement of otherwise less stable isomers of Au4, Au6 and Au8. Ligands are found to play a crucial role in determining the 2D to 3D transition realized in small gold clusters. In order to select an appropriate theory level to use in this study, we investigate the effect of attachment of four different ligands (NH3, NMe3, PH3, PMe3) on cluster geometry and energetics of Au2 and Au4 in vacuum and in solution. Our results benchmark the applicability of DFT functional model and polarization functions in the basis set for calculations of ligated gold cluster systems. We employ five different basis sets with increasing amount of polarization and diffuse functions; LANL2DZ, LANL2DZ-P, def2-SVP, def2-TZVP, and def2-QZVP. We obtain NMe3 = NH3 > PH3 > PMe3 order of ligand binding energies and observe shallow potential energy surfaces in all molecules. Our results suggest appropriate quantum-chemical methodologies to model small noble metal clusters in realistic ligand environment to provide reliable theoretical analysis in order to complement experiments.


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Graduation Date



Masunov, Artem E.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program









Release Date

July 2011

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Included in

Chemistry Commons