A systematic sequence of relativistic approximations



An approach to the development of a systematic sequence of relativistic approximations is reviewed. The approach depends on the atomically localized nature of relativistic effects, and is based on the normalized elimination of the small component in the matrix modified Dirac equation. Errors in the approximations are assessed relative to four-component Dirac-Hartree-Fock calculations or other reference points. Projection onto the positive energy states of the isolated atoms provides an approximation in which the energy-dependent parts of the matrices can be evaluated in separate atomic calculations and implemented in terms of two sets of contraction coefficients. The errors in this approximation are extremely small, of the order of 0.001 pm in bond lengths and tens of microhartrees in absolute energies. From this approximation it is possible to partition the atoms into relativistic and nonrelativistic groups and to treat the latter with the standard operators of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics. This partitioning is shared with the relativistic effective core potential approximation. For atoms in the second period, errors in the approximation are of the order of a few hundredths of a picometer in bond lengths and less than 1 kJ mol−1 in dissociation energies; for atoms in the third period, errors are a few tenths of a picometer and a few kilojoule/mole, respectively. A third approximation for scalar relativistic effects replaces the relativistic two-electron integrals with the nonrelativistic integrals evaluated with the atomic Foldy-Wouthuysen coefficients as contraction coefficients. It is similar to the Douglas-Kroll-Hess approximation, and is accurate to about 0.1 pm and a few tenths of a kilojoule/mole. The integrals in all the approximations are no more complicated than the integrals in the full relativistic methods, and their derivatives are correspondingly easy to formulate and evaluate. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Comput Chem 23: 786–793, 2002