Finding the best density functional approximation to describe interaction energies and structures of ionic liquids in molecular dynamics studies

E Perlt and P Ray and A Hansen and F Malberg and S Grimme and B Kirchner, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 148, 193835 (2018).

DOI: 10.1063/1.5013122

Ionic liquids raise interesting but complicated questions for theoretical investigations due to the fact that a number of different inter-molecular interactions, e.g., hydrogen bonding, long-range Coulomb interactions, and dispersion interactions, need to be described properly. Here, we present a detailed study on the ionic liquids ethylammonium nitrate and 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate, in which we compare different dispersion corrected density functional approximations to accurate local coupled cluster data in static calculations on ionic liquid clusters. The efficient new composite method B97-3c is tested and has been implemented in CP2K for future studies. Furthermore, tight-binding based approaches which may be used in large scale simulations are assessed. Subsequently, ab initio as well as classical molecular dynamics simulations are conducted and structural analyses are presented in order to shed light on the different short-and long-range structural patterns depending on the method and the system size considered in the simulation. Our results indicate the presence of strong hydrogen bonds in ionic liquids as well as the aggregation of alkyl side chains due to dispersion interactions. Published by AIP Publishing.

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