Fifty Shades of Water: Benchmarking DFT Functionals against Experimental Data for Ionic Crystalline Hydrates

Authors: Getachew Kebede, Peter Broqvist, Anders Eriksson, and Kersti Hermansson

We propose that crystalline ionic hydrates constitute a valuable resource for benchmarking theoretical methods for aqueous ionic systems. Many such structures are known from the experimental literature, and they contain a large variety of water–water and ion–water structural motifs. Here we have collected a data set (CRYSTALWATER50) of 50 structurally unique “in-crystal” water molecules, involved in close to 100 nonequivalent O–H···O hydrogen bonds. A dozen well-known DFT functionals were benchmarked with respect to their ability to describe these experimental structures and their OH vibrational frequencies. We find that the PBE, RPBE-D3, and optPBE-vdW methods give the best H-bond distances and that anharmonic OH frequencies generated from B3LYP//optPBE-vdW energy scans outperform the other methods, i.e., here we performed B3LYP energy scans along the OH stretching coordinate while the rest of the structure was kept fixed at the optPBE-vdW-optimized positions

J. Chem. Theory Comput.
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jctc.8b00423

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