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  1. Complexes containing a transition metal atom with a 3d4–3d7 electron configuration typically have two low-lying, high-spin (HS) and low-spin (LS) states. The adiabatic energy difference between these states, known as the spin-crossover energy, is small enough to pose a challenge even for electronic structure methods that are well known for their accuracy and reliability. In this work, we analyze the quality of electronic structure approximations for spin-crossover energies of iron complexes with four different ligands by comparing energies from self-consistent and post-self-consistent calculations for methods based on the random phase approximation and the Fermi–Löwdin self-interaction correction. Considering that Hartree–Fock densities were found by Song et al., J. Chem. Theory Comput. 14, 2304 (2018), to eliminate the density error to a large extent, and that the Hartree–Fock method and the Perdew–Zunger-type self-interaction correction share some physics, we compare the densities obtained with these methods to learn their resemblance. We find that evaluating non-empirical exchange-correlation energy functionals on the corresponding self-interaction-corrected densities can mitigate the strong density errors and improves the accuracy of the adiabatic energy differences between HS and LS states.

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  3. We gauge the importance of self-interaction errors in density functional approximations (DFAs) for the case of water clusters. To this end, we used the Fermi–Löwdin orbital self-interaction correction method (FLOSIC) to calculate the binding energy of clusters of up to eight water molecules. Three representative DFAs of the local, generalized gradient, and metageneralized gradient families [i.e., local density approximation (LDA), Perdew–Burke–Ernzerhof (PBE), and strongly constrained and appropriately normed (SCAN)] were used. We find that the overbinding of the water clusters in these approximations is not a density-driven error. We show that, while removing self-interaction error does not alter the energetic ordering of the different water isomers with respect to the uncorrected DFAs, the resulting binding energies are corrected toward accurate reference values from higher-level calculations. In particular, self-interaction–corrected SCAN not only retains the correct energetic ordering for water hexamers but also reduces the mean error in the hexamer binding energies to less than 14 meV/H2Ofrom about 42 meV/H2Ofor SCAN. By decomposing the total binding energy into many-body components, we find that large errors in the two-body interaction in SCAN are significantly reduced by self-interaction corrections. Higher-order many-body errors are small in both SCAN and self-interaction–corrected SCAN. These results indicate that orbital-by-orbital removal of self-interaction combined with a proper DFA can lead to improved descriptions of water complexes.

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