Molecular systems containing magnetically interacting (exchange-coupled) manganese ions are important in catalysis, biomimetic chemistry, and molecular magnetism. The reliable prediction of exchange coupling constants with quantum chemical methods is key for tracing the relationships between structure and magnetic properties in these systems. Density functional theory (DFT) in the broken-symmetry approach has been employed extensively for this purpose and hybrid functionals with moderate levels of Hartree–Fock exchange admixture have often been shown to perform adequately. Double-hybrid density functionals that introduce a second-order perturbational contribution to the Kohn–Sham energy are generally regarded as a superior approach for most molecular properties, but their performance remains unexplored for exchange-coupled manganese systems. An assessment of various double-hybrid functionals for the prediction of exchange coupling constants is presented here using a set of experimentally characterized dinuclear manganese complexes that cover a wide range of exchange coupling situations. Double-hybrid functionals perform more uniformly compared to conventional DFT methods, but they fail to deliver improved accuracy or reliability in the prediction of exchange coupling constants. Reparametrized double-hybrid density functionals (DHDFs) perform no better, and most often worse, than the original B2-PLYP double-hybrid method. All DHDFs are surpassed by the hybrid-meta-generalized gradient approximation (GGA) TPSSh functional. Possible directions for future methodological developments are discussed.
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