Structural evolution of amino acid crystals under stress from a non-empirical density functional
Use of the non-local correlation functional vdW-DF (from 'van der Waals density functional'; Dion M et al 2004 Phys. Rev. Lett. 92 246401) has become a popular approach for including van der Waals interactions within density functional theory. In this work, we extend the vdW-DF theory and derive the corresponding stress tensor in a fashion similar to the LDA and GGA approach, which allows for a straightforward implementation in any electronic structure code. We then apply our methodology to investigate the structural evolution of amino acid crystals of glycine and L-alanine under pressure up to 10 GPa-with and without van der Waals interactions-and find that for an accurate description of intermolecular interactions and phase transitions in these systems, the inclusion of van der Waals interactions is crucial. For glycine, calculations including the vdW-DF (vdW-DF-c09x) functional are found to systematically overestimate (underestimate) the crystal lattice parameters, yet the stability ordering of the different polymorphs is determined accurately, at variance with the GGA case. In the case of L-alanine, our vdW-DF results agree with recent experiments that question the phase transition reported for this crystal at 2.3 GPa, as the a and c cell parameters happen to become equal but no phase transition is observed.