Signatures of van der Waals binding: A coupling-constant scaling analysis
Journal article, 2018
The van der Waals (vdW) density functional (vdW-DF) method [Rep. Prog. Phys. 78, 066501 (2015)RPPHAG0034-488510.1088/0034-4885/78/6/066501] describes dispersion or vdW binding by tracking the effects of an electrodynamic coupling among pairs of electrons and their associated exchange-correlation holes. This is done in a nonlocal-correlation energy term Ecnl, which permits density functional theory calculation in the Kohn-Sham scheme. However, to map the nature of vdW forces in a fully interacting materials system, it is necessary to also account for associated kinetic-correlation energy effects. Here, we present a coupling-constant scaling analysis, which permits us to compute the kinetic-correlation energy Tcnl that is specific to the vdW-DF account of nonlocal correlations. We thus provide a more complete spatially resolved analysis of the electrodynamical-coupling nature of nonlocal-correlation binding, including vdW attraction, in both covalently and noncovalently bonded systems. We find that kinetic-correlation energy effects play a significant role in the account of vdW or dispersion interactions among molecules. Furthermore, our mapping shows that the total nonlocal-correlation binding is concentrated to pockets in the sparse electron distribution located between the material fragments.