Bridging density-functional and many-body perturbation theory: Orbital-density dependence in electronic-structure functionals
Energy functionals which depend explicitly on orbital densities, rather than on the total charge density, appear when applying self-interaction corrections to density-functional theory; this is, e.g., the case for Perdew-Zunger and Koopmans-compliant functionals. In these formulations the total energy is not invariant under unitary rotations of the orbitals, and local, orbital-dependent potentials emerge. We argue that this is not a shortcoming, and that instead these potentials can provide, in a functional form, a simplified quasiparticle approximation to the spectral potential, i.e., the local, frequency-dependent contraction of the many-body self-energy that is sufficient to describe exactly the spectral function. As such, orbital-density-dependent functionals have the flexibility to accurately describe both total energies and quasiparticle excitations in the electronic-structure problem. In addition, and at variance with the Kohn-Sham case, orbital-dependent potentials do not require nonanalytic derivative discontinuities. We present numerical solutions based on the frequency-dependent Sham-Schl "uter equation to support this view, and examine some of the existing functionals in this perspective, highlighting the very close agreement between exact and approximate orbital-dependent potentials.