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The shortcomings of semi-local and hybrid functionals: what we can learn from surface science studies

A Stroppa and G Kresse
New J. Phys. 10 063020 (2008)

A study of the adsorption of CO on late 4d and 5d transition metal (111) surfaces (Ru, Rh, Pd, Ag, Os, Ir and Pt) considering atop and hollow site adsorption is presented. The applied functionals include the gradient-corrected Perdew–Burke–Ernzerhof (PBE) and Becke–Lee–Yang–Parr (BLYP) functionals, and the corresponding hybrid Hartree–Fock density functionals HSE and B3LYP. We find that PBE-based hybrid functionals (specifically HSE) yield, with the exception of Pt, the correct site order on all considered metals, but they also considerably overestimate the adsorption energies compared to experiment. On the other hand, the semi-local BLYP functional and the corresponding hybrid functional B3LYP yield very satisfactory adsorption energies and the correct adsorption site for all surfaces. We are thus faced with a Procrustean problem: the B3LYP and BLYP functionals seem to be the overall best choice for describing adsorption on metal surfaces, but they simultaneously fail to account well for the properties of the metal, vastly overestimating the equilibrium volume and underestimating the atomization energies. Setting out from these observations, general conclusions are drawn on the relative merits and drawbacks of various semi-local and hybrid functionals. The discussion includes a revised version of the PBE functional specifically optimized for bulk properties and surface energies (PBEsol), a revised version of the PBE functional specifically optimized to predict accurate adsorption energies (rPBE), as well as the aforementioned BLYP functional. We conclude that no semi-local functional is capable of describing all aspects properly, and including non-local exchange also only improves some but worsens other properties.