The interplay between electrostatic and van der Waals (vdW) interactions in porphyrin-C60 dyads is still under debate despite its importance in influencing the structural characteristics of such complexes considered for various applications in molecular photovoltaics. In this article, we sample the conformational space of a porphyrin-C60 dyad using Car-Parrinello molecular dynamics simulations with and without empirical vdW corrections. Long-range vdW interactions, which are poorly described by the commonly used density functional theory functionals, prove to be essential for a proper dynamics of the dyad moieties. Inclusion of vdW corrections brings porphyrin and C60 close together in an orientation that is in agreement with experimental observations. The structural differences arising from the vdW corrections are shown to be significant for several properties and potentially less important for others. Additionally, our Mulliken population analysis reveals that contrary to the common belief, porphyrin is not the primary electron donating moiety for C60. In the considered dyad, fullerene's affinity for electrons is primarily satisfied by charge transfer from the amide group of the linker. However, we show that in the absence of another suitable bound donor, C60 can withdraw electrons from porphyrin if it is sufficiently close.
- Car-Parrinello molecular dynamics
- time-dependent-density functional theory