Comments on the Molecular Geometry of Ferrocene: The Dangers of Using Quantum Chemistry Programs as Black Boxes

by Martin, J.; Baker, J.; Pulay, P.

The dangers of using standard quantum chemistry programs as black boxes is illustrated by analyzing some results in a recent paper published in this journal (Zhang et al., J Comput Chem 2007, 28, 2260). The main danger is that nonlinear optimizations of both the wavefunction and the molecular geometry may converge to higher local minima or to saddle points, producing misleading results. For instance, some of the calculated molecular geometries of ferrocene in the aforementioned paper correspond to an SCF solution that converged to an excited state. This is the cause of the apparent large variation in the calculated iron-ring distance with the basis set. Another problem we noticed is that the source of the diffuse functions used in the earlier work in connection with the 6-31G and 6-311G basis sets for transition metals is not specified in the literature or the program manual. They are also a poor match for the 6-31G basis set. We re-emphasize that the 6-31G basis set used in this paper lacks the necessary diffuse cl-type functions for the late first-row transition metals, and ought to be replaced by the m6-31G basis that offers a more balanced description of the atomic valence states.

Journal of Computational Chemistry
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1096-987X; 0192-8651