Peak-Shifting in Real-Time Time-Dependent Density Functional Theory


Provorse, M. R., Habenicht, B. F., & Isborn, C. M. (2015). Peak-Shifting in Real-Time Time-Dependent Density Functional Theory. Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, 11, 4791-4802.


In recent years, the development and application of real-time time-dependent density functional theory (RT-TDDFT) has gained momentum as a computationally efficient method for modeling electron dynamics and properties that require going beyond a linear response of the electron density. However, the RT-TDDFT method within the adiabatic approximation can unphysically shift absorption peaks throughout the electron dynamics. Here, we investigate the origin of these time-dependent resonances observed in RT-TDDFT spectra. Using both exact exchange and hybrid exchange-correlation approximate functionals, adiabatic RT-TDDFT gives time-dependent absorption spectra in which the peaks shift in energy as populations of the excited states fluctuate, while exact wave function methods yield peaks that are constant in energy but vary in intensity. The magnitude of the RT-TDDFT peak shift depends on the frequency and intensity of the applied field, in line with previous studies, but it oscillates as a function of time-dependent molecular orbital populations, consistent with a time-dependent superposition electron density. For the first time, we provide a rationale for the direction and magnitude of the time-dependent peak shifts based on the molecular electronic structure. For three small molecules, H2, HeH+, and LiH, we give contrasting examples of peak-shifting to both higher and lower energies. The shifting is explained as coupled one-electron transitions to a higher and a lower lying state. Whether the peak shifts to higher or lower energies depends on the relative energetics of these one-electron transitions.