Recently, I looked at these two papers analyzing the excited-state properties of modified DNA bases (2-aminopurine and 8-vinyl-A) and how they are influenced by stacking with natural nucleobases:
- Jean, J. M.; Hall, K. B. 2-Aminopurine fluorescence quenching and lifetimes: Role of base stacking. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2001, 98 (1), 37–41 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.98.1.37.
- Kenfack, C. A.; Burger, A.; Mély, Y. Excited-State Properties and Transitions of Fluorescent 8-Vinyl Adenosine in DNA. J. Phys. Chem. B 2006, 110 (51), 26327–26336 DOI: 10.1021/jp064388h.
Briefly, the authors considered dimers comprising the respective modified base and each of the natural bases. The geometries of the individual monomers were optimized using MP2/6-31G(d,p) while maintaining their relative position within in the dimer. Afterwards, the authors examined the excited state properties with TDDFT (B3LYP/6-311+G(d)) to identify dark states that could indicate fluorescence quenching of the modified bases.
I'm not an expert in theoretical chemistry and so I was wondering how the choice of methods here was motivated. In particular, why was MP2 used for geometry optimization and not DFT? Does it have to do with a better description of dispersion interactions by MP2?
For their TDDFT calculations the authors used the 6-311+G(d) basis set. I want to try out some similar calculations using ORCA. According to the manual and online resources from the developers, Ahlrich's basis sets seem to be preferred over Pople style basis sets. Could I expect similar (or better/worse) accuracy with def2-TZVP? It's also triple-zeta and contains polarization functions on heavy atoms, but lacks the diffusion functions that were present in the studies mentioned above. Would these be important anyway in such a case were only valence transitions are investigated?