The possibility of calculating accurate ab initio bond angles is examined using a sample of 29 molecules (35 independent angles) containing only first row atoms and whose equilibrium structures are known. Three different correlated methods are compared: MP2, CCSD(T), and DFT, using the hybrid functional B3LYP. The convergence of Dunning's correlation consistent polarized valence basis sets, cc-pVnZ is also studied. It is found that the CCSD(T) method is consistently the most accurate; the DFT/B3LYP being slightly less reliable than MP2. It is shown that when convergence of the basis set is achieved (which is dependent on the kind of bonding) and when the effect of diffuse functions on electronegative atoms is taken into account, a high accuracy may be obtained: 0.03°for the median of absolute deviations or 0.07°for the mean absolute deviation. It does not exclude the possibility that the ab initio method may fail in some particular case, for instance when a large amplitude motion is involved. The MP2/cc-pVQZ method gives a mean absolute deviation of 0.22°to be compared with the 0.07°of the CCSD(T) method. To obtain these results, it was necessary to reanalyze the structure of a few molecules, particularly, a new and more accurate structure is proposed for nitroxyl, HNO and hydrogen peroxide, H2O2. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
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