Tristan Bereau and O. Anatole von Lilienfeld, J. Chem. Phys. (2014)

Many-body van der Waals interaction energies without electron density

We estimate polarizabilities of atoms in molecules without electron density, using a Voronoi tesselation approach instead of conventional density partitioning schemes. The resulting atomic dispersion coefficients are calculated, as well as many-body dispersion effects on intermolecular potential energies. We also estimate contributions from multipole electrostatics and compare them to dispersion. We assess the performance of the resulting intermolecular interaction model from dispersion and electrostatics for more than 1300 neutral and charged, small organic molecular dimers. Applications to water clusters, the benzene crystal, the anti-cancer drug ellipticine—intercalated between two Watson-Crick DNA base pairs, as well as six macro-molecular host-guest complexes highlight the potential of this method and help to identify points of future improvement. The mean absolute error made by the combination of static electrostatics with many-body dispersion reduces at larger distances, while it plateaus for two-body dispersion, in conflict with the common assumption that the simple 1/R 6 correction will yield proper dissociative tails. Overall, the method achieves an accuracy well within conventional molecular force fields while exhibiting a simple parametrization protocol.