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Finding transition states

Locating minima on a PES is straightforward. In contrast, transition state optimization requires much more input. The diagonal guess Hessian will almost never work, so you must provide a computed one. The Hessian should be computed at your best guess as to what the TS should be.

The real trick here is to find a good guess for the transition state structure. The closer you are, the better. It is often difficult to guess these structures. One way to obtain a good guess is to built an approximate TS and to perform a constrained minimization by freezing internal coordinates that change most during the reaction. Alternatively, you can generate several structures intermediate to reactants and products, and compute the energy at each point. The maximum energy structure is usually a good guess for the true TS.

After obtaining a reasonable initial guess for the TS structure you have to perform a vibrational analysis (or LES calculation for a large molecule) and to identify the index of the transition vector to follow during the optimization. Ideally, this is a vector with a negative eigenvalue, or "imaginary" frequency. The best way to find the right vector is to use some graphical interface to visualize vibrations. For a reasonable guess structure there should be one vibration that resembles the reaction under study. Remember that statpt uses a different ordering of eigenvalues as compared to the aoforce output--six (five) zero eigenvalues are shifted to the end.

There is an important thing to remember at this point. Even such sophisticated optimization methods like TRIM will not replace your own chemical intuition about where transition states may be located. If you need to restart your run, do so with the coordinates which have the smallest RMS gradient. Note that the energy does not have necessarily to decrease in a transition state search (as opposed to minimizations). It is sometimes necessary to do restart several times (including a recomputation of the Hessian) before the saddle point can be located.

Assuming you do find the TS, it is always a good idea to recompute the Hessian at this structure. It is fairly common, especially when using symmetry, that at your ``TS'' there is a second imaginary frequency. This means that you have not found the correct TS. The proper procedure is to distort the structure along the ``extra'' imaginary normal mode using the tool screwer (see Section 1.5). Very often such a distortion requires also lowering the point group symmetry. The distortion must be large enough, otherwise the next run will come back to the invalid structure.


next up previous contents index
Next: Program Relax Up: Program STATPT Previous: Finding Minima   Contents   Index
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