In this work, we investigate how geometric changes influence the static dipole polarizability (α) of a water molecule by explicitly computing the corresponding dipole polarizability surface (DPS) across 3125 total (1625 symmetry-unique) geometries using linear response coupled cluster theory including single, double, and triple excitations (LR-CCSDT) and the doubly augmented triple-ζ basis set (d-aug-cc-pVTZ). Analytical formulae based on power series expansions of this ab initio surface are generated using linear least-squares analysis and provide highly accurate estimates of this quantity as a function of molecular geometry (i.e., bond and angle variations) in a computationally tractable manner. An additional database, which consists of 25 representative molecular geometries and incorporates a more thorough treatment of both basis sets and core electron effects, is provided as a current benchmark for this quantity and the corresponding leading-order C6 dispersion coefficient. This database has been utilized to assess the importance of these effects as well as the relative accuracy that can be obtained using several quantum chemical methods and a library of density functional approximations. In addition to high-level electron correlation methods (like CCSD) and our analytical least-squares formulae, we find that the SCAN0, PBE0, MN15, and B97-2 hybrid functionals yield the most accurate descriptions of the molecular polarizability tensor in H2O. Using first-order perturbation theory, we compute the zero-point vibrational correction to α at the CCSDT/d-aug-cc-pVTZ level and find that this correction contributes approximately 3% to the isotropic (αiso) and nearly 50% to the anisotropic (αaniso) polarizability values. In doing so, we find that αiso = 9.8307 bohr3, which is in excellent agreement with the experimental value of 9.83 ± 0.02 bohr3 provided by Russell and Spackman. The DPS reported herein provides a benchmark-quality quantum mechanical estimate of this fundamental quantity of interest and should find extensive use in the development (and assessment) of next-generation force fields and machine-learning based approaches for modeling water in complex condensed-phase environments.
The range of αxz ≈ 0–4 bohr3 applies to water molecules with r1 ≤ r2 (for water molecules with r1 > r2, there will be a sign change in this component).