A few days ago I finally finished writing the manuscript for the paper on nitrobenzene photochemistry. I will post a link here as soon as it is published and I dont want to spoil to much. However, a few of the most remarkable outcomes I want to share:
- If you are planning on doing quantum chemical calculations on molecules including a nitro-group, don't use CC2 for obtaining ground state geometries, it will give you very poor results. I think in general, one should not use CC2 for the ground-state just because it is a coupled cluster approach. Obviously, MP2 is cheaper and seemingly also better/more stable. Even some of the developers of CC2 think so! In my experience, B2PLYP is even better, in particular in complicated electronic situations at pretty much the same or less cost than MP2 (The KS-SCF usually converges much faster and more stable than HF-SCF, which is true in particular for triplet states). For all singly excited-states of nitrobenzene, the excitation energies of TDA-B2PLYP are throughout very close to those obtained with ADC3. Eventually, I am really impressed by the performance of this double-hybrid functional, which it delivers at essentially no cost compared to the expensive ADC3.
- After doing A LOT of calculations with every theoretical methods I could get my hands on, I think I finally understood what the problem of nitrobenzene is: According to MOM-CCSD(T)/cc-pVTZ, the second lowest excited singlet state of nitrobenzene (1 B1, npi>pi*) has large double excitation character of 50 % according to the ADC3 state composition. Since this state is closely related to the lowest triplet state for which the problems persist, its still unclear which is the lowest triplet state of nitrobenzene. All I can say after doing all these calculations (ADC3, MOM-CCSD(T), EOM-CCSD, DFT-MRCI, CAS-NEVPT2(14/11), TDA-B2PLYP) is that the lowest two triplet states (one n>pi* and one npi>pi*) are very close together regarding their vertical excitation energies (n>pi ~ 0.2 eV above npi>pi) and if geometrical relaxation is considered, they become virtually degenerate (dE < 0.05 eV).
- I found an experimental spectrum of nitrobenzene vapor published in 1964 [S. Nagakura, M. Kojima, Y. Maruyama, J. Mol. Spec. 13 p. 174], which shows a peak exactly at the excitation energy of 4.4 eV predicted by MOM-CCSD(T) for the doubly excited npi>pi* singlet state. On the basis of a comparison to benzene, Nagakura et Al assigned this peak to an other state. According to my calculations (ADC3 and EOM-CCSD), however, this other state (2 B1) neither has any oscillator strength (~ 0.0002) nor does the energy fit (4.7 eV instead of 4.4 eV). Furthermore is the vibrational splitting of this peak in bare benzene 930 /cm just in the same ballpark compared to the 860 /cm they found for this peak in the spectrum of nitrobenzene. So I calculated the vibrational splitting for the doubly excited 1 B1 state and voi-la: 864 /cm (B2PLYP), which fits much better. After all, I'm pretty sure the first visible peak in the spectrum of nitrobenzene vapor is due to a doubly excited state, which is really unexpected, I guess.