Low-lying excited states by constrained DFT
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The Journal of chemical physics 148 (14): 144103 (2018)

Exploiting the machinery of Constrained Density Functional Theory (CDFT), we propose a variational method for calculating low-lying excited states of molecular systems. We dub this method eXcited CDFT (XCDFT). Excited states are obtained by self-consistently constraining a user-defined population of electrons, Nc, in the virtual space of a reference set of occupied orbitals. By imposing this population to be Nc = 1.0, we computed the first excited state of 15 molecules from a test set. Our results show that XCDFT achieves an accuracy in the predicted excitation energy only slightly worse than linear-response time-dependent DFT (TDDFT), but without incurring into problems of variational collapse typical of the more commonly adopted ΔSCF method. In addition, we selected a few challenging processes to test the limits of applicability of XCDFT. We find that in contrast to TDDFT, XCDFT is capable of reproducing energy surfaces featuring conical intersections (azobenzene and H3) with correct topology and correct overall energetics also away from the intersection. Venturing to condensed-phase systems, XCDFT reproduces the TDDFT solvatochromic shift of benzaldehyde when it is embedded by a cluster of water molecules. Thus, we find XCDFT to be a competitive method among single-reference methods for computations of excited states in terms of time to solution, rate of convergence, and accuracy of the result.
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