The underlying theory of the ADF package is the Kohn-Sham approach to the Density-Functional Theory (DFT). Kohn-Sham DFT is an important first-principles computational method to predict chemical properties accurately and to analyze and interpret these in convenient and simple chemical terms.
The reasons for its popularity and success are easy to understand. In the first place, the DFT approach is in principle exact. In particular, the Kohn-Sham method implies a one-electron picture of the many-electron systems but yields in principle the exact electron density (and related properties) and the total energy. The exact exchange-correlation (XC) functional is unknown, but the currently available XC functionals provide in most cases already a 'chemical' accuracy of a few kcal/mol for binding energies. Moreover, the quest for more accurate ones based on a more detailed understanding of their essential properties is continuing.
|In the past two decades, computational chemistry emerged as a mainstream tool used by all types of chemists, physicists and engineers who have an interest in research and development. DFT came to dominate quantum chemistry applications since the turn of the century.|
In the second place, it preserves at all levels of approximation the appealing one-electron molecular orbital (MO) view on chemical reactions and properties. The computed orbitals are suitable for the typical MO-theoretical analyses and interpretations. The KS method effectively incorporates all correlation effects.
In the third place, it is a relatively efficient computational method, and its fundamental scaling properties do not deteriorate when methodological precision is increased, in particular, when a more accurate XC functional is applied. Recent research paves the way to implementations that scale only linearly with the system size. This brings within reach the treatment by fundamental quantum chemical methods of systems with hundreds, maybe even thousands of atoms.
DFT gives superior accuracy to Hartree-Fock theory and semi-empirical approaches, and it is well suited for molecules containing metal atoms. In contrast to conventional ab initio methods (MP2, CI, CC), it enables accurate treatment of systems with several hundreds of atoms (or several thousands with QM/MM).
Text is mostly taken from: Chemistry with ADF, G. te Velde, F.M. Bickelhaupt, E.J. Baerends, C. Fonseca Guerra, S.J.A. van Gisbergen, J.G. Snijders, T. Ziegler J. Comp. Chem. 22 (2001) 931.