Non-adiabatic Excited-State Molecular Dynamics: Theory and Applications for Modeling Photophysics in Extended Molecular Materials

Tammie R. Nelson, Alexander J. White, Josiah A. Bjorgaard, Andrew E. Sifain, Yu Zhang, Benjamin Nebgen, Sebastian Fernandez-Alberti, Dmitry Mozyrsky, Adrian E. Roitberg, Sergei Tretiak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


Optically active molecular materials, such as organic conjugated polymers and biological systems, are characterized by strong coupling between electronic and vibrational degrees of freedom. Typically, simulations must go beyond the Born− Oppenheimer approximation to account for non-adiabatic coupling between excited states. Indeed, non-adiabatic dynamics is commonly associated with exciton dynamics and photophysics involving charge and energy transfer, as well as exciton dissociation and charge recombination. Understanding the photoinduced dynamics in such materials is vital to providing an accurate description of exciton formation, evolution, and decay. This interdisciplinary field has matured significantly over the past decades. Formulation of new theoretical frameworks, development of more efficient and accurate computational algorithms, and evolution of high-performance computer hardware has extended these simulations to very large molecular systems with hundreds of atoms, including numerous studies of organic semiconductors and biomolecules. In this Review, we will describe recent theoretical advances including treatment of electronic decoherence in surface-hopping methods, the role of solvent effects, trivial unavoided crossings, analysis of data based on transition densities, and efficient computational implementations of these numerical methods. We also emphasize newly developed semiclassical approaches, based on the Gaussian approximation, which retain phase and width information to account for significant decoherence and interference effects while maintaining the high efficiency of surface-hopping approaches. The above developments have been employed to successfully describe photophysics in a variety of molecular materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2215-2287
Number of pages73
JournalChemical Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


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