In the Born-Oppenheimer approximation, the electronic wave function is typically real-valued and hence the electronic flux density (current density) seems to vanish. This is unfortunate for chemistry, because it precludes the possibility to monitor the electronic motion associated with the nuclear motion during chemical rearrangements from a Born-Oppenheimer simulation of the process. We study an electronic flux density obtained from a correction to the electronic wave function. This correction is derived via nuclear velocity perturbation theory applied in the framework of the exact factorization of electrons and nuclei. To compute the correction, only the ground state potential energy surface and the electronic wave function are needed. For a model system, we demonstrate that this electronic flux density approximates the true one very well, for coherent tunneling dynamics as well as for over-the-barrier scattering, and already for mass ratios between electrons and nuclei that are much larger than the true mass ratios.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Partial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 762) and from the European Commission (FP7-NMPCRONOS) is gratefully acknowledged.
© 2016 American Chemical Society.