The calculation of electron localization and delocalization indices at the Hartree–Fock, density functional and post-Hartree–Fock levels of theory
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Localization, λ(A), and delocalization indices, δ(A,B), as defined in the atoms in molecules theory, are a convenient tool for the analysis of molecular electronic structure from an electron-pair perspective. These indices can be calculated at any level of theory, provided that first- and second-order electron densities are available. In particular, calculations at the Hartree–Fock (HF) and configuration interaction (CI) levels have been previously reported for many molecules. However, λ(A) and δ(A,B) cannot be calculated exactly in the framework of Kohn–Sham (KS) density functional theory (DFT), where the electron-pair density is not defined. As a practical workaround, one can derive a HF-like electron-pair density from the KS orbitals and calculate approximate localization and delocalization indices at the DFT level. Recently, several calculations using this approach have been reported. Here we present HF, CI and approximate DFT calculations of λ(A) and δ(A,B) values for a number of molecules. Furthermore, we also perform approximate CI calculations using the HF formalism to obtain the electron-pair density. In general, the approximate DFT and CI results are closer to the HF results than to the CI ones. Indeed, the approximate calculations take into account Coulomb electron correlation effects on the first-order electron density but not on the electron-pair density. In summary, approximate DFT and CI localization and delocalization indices are easy to calculate and can be useful in the analysis of molecular electronic structure; however, one should take into account that this approximation increases systematically the delocalization between covalently bonded atoms, with respect to the exact CI results.
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