BH9, a New Comprehensive Benchmark Dataset for Barrier Heights and Reaction Energies: Assessment of Density Functional Approximations and Basis Set Incompleteness Potentials

14 July 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The calculation of accurate reaction energies and barrier heights is essential in computational studies of reaction mechanisms and thermochemistry. In order to assess methods regarding their ability to predict these two properties, high-quality benchmark sets are required that comprise a reasonably large and diverse set of organic reactions. Due to the time-consuming nature of both locating transition states and computing accurate reference energies for reactions involving large molecules, previous benchmark sets have been limited in scope, the number of reactions considered, and the size of the reactant and product molecules. Recent advances in coupled-cluster theory, in particular local correlation methods like DLPNO-CCSD(T), now allow the calculation of reaction energies and barrier heights for relatively large systems. In this work, we present a comprehensive, and diverse benchmark set of barrier heights and reaction energies based on DLPNO-CCSD(T)/CBS, called BH9. BH9 comprises 449 chemical reactions belonging to nine types common in organic chemistry and biochemistry. We examine the accuracy of DLPNO-CCSD(T) vis-a-vis canonical CCSD(T) for a subset of BH9 and conclude that, although there is a penalty in using the DLPNO approximation, the reference data are accurate enough to serve as benchmark for density-functional theory (DFT) methods. We then present two applications of the BH9 set. First, we examine the performance of several density functional approximations commonly used in thermochemical and mechanistic studies. Second, we assess our basis set incompleteness potentials regarding their ability to mitigate basis set incompleteness error. The number of data points, the diversity of the reactions considered, and the relatively large size of the reactant molecules make BH9 the most comprehensive thermochemical benchmark set to date, and a useful tool for the development and assessment of computational methods.


reaction barrier heights
reaction energies
benchmark dataset
correlated wavefunction complete basis set
Density functional theory
Basis set incompleteness potentials


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