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Accurate surface and adsorption energies from many-body perturbation theory


Kohn–Sham density functional theory is the workhorse computational method in materials and surface science1. Unfortunately, most semilocal density functionals predict surfaces to be more stable than they are experimentally. Naively, we would expect that consequently adsorption energies on surfaces are too small as well, but the contrary is often found: chemisorption energies are usually overestimated2. Modifying the functional improves either the adsorption energy or the surface energy but always worsens the other aspect. This suggests that semilocal density functionals possess a fundamental flaw that is difficult to cure, and alternative methods are urgently needed. Here we show that a computationally fairly efficient many-electron approach, the random phase approximation3 to the correlation energy, resolves this dilemma and yields at the same time excellent lattice constants, surface energies and adsorption energies for carbon monoxide and benzene on transition-metal surfaces.

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Figure 1: Atop CO adsorption and surface energies for Pt(111) and Rh(111).
Figure 2: Electronic DOS for CO adsorbed atop a Pt atom on Pt(111).
Figure 3: Surface energies, lattice constants and adsorption energies.


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This work was supported by the Austrian Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF).

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L.S., J.H., A.S., F.M. and G.K. carried out the calculations. J.H., A.G., M.M. and G.K. contributed to the implementation of hybrid functionals and RPA. G.K. prepared the manuscript initially. All authors contributed to the discussions and revisions of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to L. Schimka or A. Stroppa.

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Schimka, L., Harl, J., Stroppa, A. et al. Accurate surface and adsorption energies from many-body perturbation theory. Nature Mater 9, 741–744 (2010).

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