The Density Integration Approach to Populations. A Critical Comparison of Projection Populations to Populations Defined by the Theory of Atoms in Molecules


The theory of atoms in molecules defines an unambiguous partitioning of the three-dimensional electron density into atomic basins based on the zero-flux surfaces of the gradient of the electron density, ∇(r). Integrations of the electron density within such basins yield integrated Bader populations (IBP) that have a rigorous foundation in quantum mechanics. In the density integration technique based on the two-dimensional electron density projection function, P(x,z), integrated projection populations (IPP) are obtained by integration within regions demarked by steepest descent lines Dp of P(x,z). These density integration techniques are compared by an analysis of the electron density of diatomic molecules that is based on the properties of the zero-flux surface that partitions the electron density between the atoms. The conventional method for the partitioning of regions of P(x,z) approximates the virial partitioning. Differences between IPP and IBP can be quantitatively described by two terms. One term reflects the error intrinsic to projection populations as a result of the loss of all information about the electron distribution in the third dimension in the calculation of P(x,z). The second term accounts for the effects of the displacement of the demarcation lines Dp toward the less polarizable atom compared with the cross-section of the density with the plane of projection, Dd. The analysis suggests the definition of a projection population IPP2 that is based on the cross-section Dd instead of the demarcation lines Dp. Relations between the populations IPP, IPP2, and IBP are derived for diatomic molecules and numerical results are presented for a series of diatomic molecules. Several polyatomic anions are also discussed. The values of IPP are found to be good approximations of IBP in highly polar diatomic molecules. In cases where the bonding involves comparatively little intramolecular charge transfer IPP2 is the better and equally satisfactory projection population. In the intermediate semipolar bonding situations projection populations provide qualitatively correct descriptions of the charge distributions but the numerical agreement with the IBP values is less satisfactory.



International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0192-8651; 1096-987X

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 1989 Wiley-Blackwell, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 1989