Ab initio electronic density in solids by many-body plane-wave auxiliary-field quantum Monte Carlo calculations
We present accurate many-body results of the electronic densities in several solid materials, including Si, NaCl, and Cu. These results are obtained using the ab initio auxiliary-field quantum Monte Carlo (AFQMC) method working in a plane-wave basis with norm-conserving, multiple-projector pseudopotentials. AFQMC has been shown to be an excellent many-body total energy method. Computation of observables and correlation functions other than the ground-state energy requires back-propagation, whose adaption and implementation in the plane-wave basis AFQMC framework are discussed in the present paper. This development allows us to compute correlation functions, electronic densities, and interatomic forces, paving the way for geometry optimizations and calculations of thermodynamic properties in solids. Finite supercell size effects are considerably more subtle in the many-body framework than in independent-electron calculations. We analyze the convergence of the electronic density, and obtain best estimates for the thermodynamic limit. The densities from several typical density functionals are benchmarked against our near-exact results. The electronic densities we obtained can also be used to help construct improved density functionals.