Journal of Physical Chemistry A

Characterization of the Photochemical Properties of 5-Benzyluracil via Time-Dependent Density Functional Theory

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We present a detailed study of the excited state properties of 5-benzyluracil (5BU) in the gas phase and in implicit solvent using different electronic structure approaches ranging from time-dependent density functional theory in the linear response regime (LR-TDDFT) to a set of different wave-function-based methods for excited states, namely perturbed coupled cluster (CC2), algebraic diagrammatic construction method to second order (ADC(2)), and perturbed configuration interaction (CIS(D)). 5BU has been used to investigate DNA base-amino acid interactions. In particular, it served as a model of protein-DNA photoinduced cross-linking. While LR-TDDFT is computationally the most efficient first-principles approach for static and dynamic simulations of this bichromophoric system, its accuracy is difficult to assess due to the presence of excited states with charge transfer character. In this work, the performance of different exchange correlation functionals is compared against accurate benchmarks obtained either from high level wave-function-based methods or directly from experimental absorption spectra. Our investigation shows that accurate results for the excitation energies can be obtained using the hybrid meta-GGA functional M06. In view of dynamical studies of the relaxation of 5BU after photoexcitation, we also show that the PBE functional, while failing in the Franck-Condon region, provides qualitatively good results for the characterisation of a possible photocyclization path.