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The development of approximate exchange-correlation functionals is critical for modern density functional theory. A recent analysis of atomic systems suggested that some modern functionals are straying from the path toward the exact functional because electron densities are becoming less accurate while energies are becoming more accurate since the year 2000. To investigate this trend for more chemically relevant systems, the electron densities in the bonding regions and the atomization energies are analyzed for a series of diatomic molecules with 90 different functionals. For hybrid generalized gradient approximation functionals developed since the year 2000, the errors in densities and atomization energies are decoupled; the accuracy of the energies remains relatively consistent while the accuracy of the densities varies significantly. Such decoupling is not observed for generalized gradient and meta-generalized gradient approximation functionals. Analysis of electron densities in bonding regions is found to be important for the evaluation of functionals for chemical systems.

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Brorsen, K. R.; Yang, Y.; Pak, M. V.; Hammes-Schiffer, S., J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2017, 8, 2076-2081Contributed by Steven BacharachReposted from Computational Organic Chemistry with permissionI recently blogged about a paper arguing that modern density...