We study the effect of functional groups (CH3*4, OCH3, CH3, Cl, CN, F*4) on the electronic transport properties of 1,4-benzenediamine molecular junctions using the non-equilibrium Green function method. Exchange and correlation effects are included at various levels of theory, namely density functional theory (DFT), energy level-corrected DFT (DFT+Σ), Hartree-Fock and the many-body GW approximation. All methods reproduce the expected trends for the energy of the frontier orbitals according to the electron donating or withdrawing character of the substituent group. However, only the GW method predicts the correct ordering of the conductance amongst the molecules. The absolute GW (DFT) conductance is within a factor of two (three) of the experimental values. Correcting the DFT orbital energies by a simple physically motivated scissors operator, Σ, can bring the DFT conductances close to experiments, but does not improve on the relative ordering. We ascribe this to a too strong pinning of the molecular energy levels to the metal Fermi level by DFT which suppresses the variation in orbital energy with functional group.
Journal of Chemical Physics, 2013, Vol 139, Issue 18