Sketch of a solventfield equilibration for the cationic ethene dimer. 

The SCF converges on an undesired solution: Without a PCM as well as for low dielectric constants and large basis set, the initial SCF converges onto the symmetrically charged (both ethenes + ½) solution, instead of the asymmetrically charged one I want to investigate.
To convince the SCF algorithm to converge onto the asymmetrically charged solution, I use sequential jobs. In my favorite quantumchemistry program, this can be triggered by adding a line “@@@” after the first input and appending the second one. The advantage of this is that results stored on disk, like e.g. MOs, statedensities and PCM surfacecharges are available in the following step. I want to use the first job to create a set of asymmetric orbitals, which I employ as initial guess in the second one. For this purpose, I shorten the CH bonds of one of the molecules by 0.1 A to introduce an asymmetry that triggers the SCF to converge onto the asymmetrical solution. Using the resulting orbitals as starting point for the SCF, I can give the second job the undistorted geometry (otherwise it would by default use the one from the first job). Starting from the asymmetrical guess orbitals, the second SCF also converges onto the desired solution, even for the now symmetric geometry. This trick was necessary for all gasphase calculations, as well as for the calculations with large (ccpVQZ) or augmented (augccpVDZ) basis sets, even if a PCM with high epsilon is used.

The energetic ordering of the excited states switches: While the chargeinverse excited state is one of the higher lying states in the groundstate equilibrated solvent field (2.4., depending on epsilon and the basis), it becomes the lowest one as soon as its solvent field is relaxed.
Changes in the energetic ordering of the excitedstates during excited state geometry optimizations are very common, if not inherent to the problem and I guess every theoretical photochemist knows the case. Using symmetry in the calculation can help, but does not necessarily solve the problem. Surprisingly few quantumchemistry codes feature a decent root homing algorithm to identify excitedstates via their overlap with the results from the previous step to guide the optimization. For the solventfield optimizations of this predictable toy system the solution is rather trivial: Since I have not yet implemented a proper iteration loop, but use a script to generate sequential input files with a fixed number of iteration steps, I can just adapt the state_to_opt variable separately in each of the iteration steps. Nevertheless, I wanted to point out how practical root homing would be as a common feature in quantumchemistry codes.

The SCF "follows" the solvent field: The first SCF calculation in the solventfield of the
excited state converges onto a solution resembling the former
excitedstate wavefunction, since the latter is much lower in energy in the
new, excitedstate relaxed solvent field.
This one was the trickiest one to tackle. Although I do per default use the orbitals of the previous step as a guess for the solventfield iterations all of the available SCF algorithms slowly crawl to the solution of the energetically much lower state. Obviously, the excitedstate solvent field is just too attractive for the positive charge. In my favorite quantumchemistry program, however, there is a very nice feature which I want to introduce in a little more detail in the following. The maximum overlap method (MOM) is basically a kind of interstep roothoming for the SCF, which was developed by Andrew Gilbert and Peter Gill for the calculation of excitedstates wavefunctions. For this purpose, converged HF orbitals from a previous calculation are rotated in such a way that they resemble the excited state, e.g. via "excitation" of an electron from the HOMO to the LUMO. One drawback of the method is that for this to succeed, the overlap between the ground and respective excited state wavefunction has to be rather small. Hence, the approach does in general only work for dark excited states. If you are interested any further: I discussed the advantages and drawbacks of this method for the description of excited states in combination with coupledcluster theory somewhat more extensively in a work on nitrobenzene. For the problem at hand, i.e. forcing the SCF to converge onto the local minimum provided in the guess orbitals, MOM works like a charm and I consider making its use the default for my equilibrium solvation approach.
Since this post has already become quite long and the day quite old I will continue with a more detailed survey of the results as well as a description of the differences between the PTE, PTD and PTED schemes in my next post.
So long!
Jan