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Origin of static and dynamic steps in exact Kohn-Sham potentials

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JournalPhysical Review B
DateAccepted/In press - 7 Apr 2016
DatePublished (current) - 25 Apr 2016
Issue number15
Number of pages11
Original languageEnglish


Knowledge of exact properties of the exchange-correlation (xc) functional is important for improving the approximations made within density functional theory. Features such as steps in the exact xc potential are known to be necessary for yielding accurate densities, yet little is understood regarding their shape, magnitude, and location. We use systems of a few electrons, where the exact electron density is known, to demonstrate general properties of steps. We find that steps occur at points in the electron density where there is a change in the 'local effective ionization energy' of the electrons. We provide practical arguments, based on the electron density, for determining the position, shape, and height of steps for ground-state systems, and extend the concepts to time-dependent systems. These arguments are intended to inform the development of approximate functionals, such as the mixed localization potential (MLP), which already demonstrate their capability to produce steps in the Kohn-Sham potential.

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