The low-lying isomers of cationic water cluster (H2O)6+ have been globally explored by using particle swarm optimization algorithm in conjunction with quantum chemical calculations. Compared with previous results, our searching method covers a wide range of structural isomers of (H2O)6+ and therefore turns out to be more effective. With these local minima, geometry optimization and vibrational analysis are performed for the most interesting clusters at second-order Møller-Plesset (MP2)/aug-cc-pVDZ level, and their energies are further refined at MP2/aug-cc-pVTZ and coupled-cluster theory with single, double, and perturbative triple excitations/aug-cc-pVDZ level. The interaction energies using the complete basis set limits at MP2 level are also reported. The relationships between their structure arrangement and their energies are discussed. Based on the results of thermal simulation, structural change from a four-numbered ring to a tree-like structure occurs at T ≈ 45 K, and the relative population of six lowest-free-energy isomers is found to exceed 4% at some point within the studied temperature range. Studies reveal that, among these six isomers, two new-found isomers constitute 10% of isomer population at 180 K, and the experimental spectra can be better explained with inclusions of the two isomers. The molecular orbitals for six representative cationic water clusters are also studied. Through topological and reduced density gradient analysis, we investigated the structural characteristics and the bonding strengths of these water cluster radical cations.

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