A quantum chemical investigation of the second hyperpolarizability of p-nitroaniline

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Recent measurements of the third harmonic scattering responses of molecules have given a new impetus for computing molecular second hyperpolarizabilities (γ) and for deducing structure-property relationships. This paper has employed a variety of wavefunction and density functional theory methods to evaluate the second hyperpolarizability of the p-nitroaniline prototypical push-pull π-conjugated molecule, addressing also numerical aspects, such as the selection of an integration grid and the impact of the order of differentiation vs the achievable accuracy by using the Romberg quadrature. The reliability of the different methods has been assessed by comparison to reference Coupled-Cluster Singles and Doubles with perturbative treatment of the Triples results. On the one hand, among wavefunction methods, the MP2 scheme offers the best accuracy/cost ratio for computing the static γ. On the other hand, using density functional theory, γ remains a challenging property to compute because all conventional, global hybrid or range-separated hybrid, exchange-correlation functionals underestimate static γ values by at least 15%. Even tuning the range-separating parameter to minimize the delocalization errors does not enable to improve the γ values. Nevertheless, the original double-hybrid B2-PLYP functional, which benefits from 27% of PT2 correlation and 53% Hartree-Fock exchange, provides accurate estimates of static γ values. Unfortunately, the best performing exchange-correlation functionals for γ are not necessarily reliable for the first hyperpolarizability, β, and vice versa. In fact, the β of p-nitroaniline (pNA) could be predicted, with a good accuracy, with several hybrid exchange-correlation functionals (including by tuning the range-separating parameter), but these systematically underestimate γ. As for γ, the MP2 wavefunction method remains the best compromise to evaluate the first hyperpolarizability of pNA at low computational cost.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114104
JournalJ. Chem. Phys.
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2023


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