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Top-level Directives

Top-level directives are directives that can affect all modules in the code. Some specify molecular properties or other data that should apply to all subsequent calculations with the current database. However, most top-level directives provide the user with the means to manage the resources for a calculation and to start computations. As the first step in the execution of a job, NWChem scans the entire input file looking for start-up directives, which NWChem must process before all other input. The input file is then rewound and processed sequentially, and each directive is processed in the order in which it is encountered. In this second pass, start-up directives are ignored.

The following sections describe each of the top-level directives in detail, noting all keywords, options, required input, and defaults.


The START or RESTART directive define the start-up mode and are optional keywords. If one of these two directives is not specified explicitly, the code will infer one, based upon the name of the input file and the availability of the database. When allowing NWChem to infer the start-up directive, the user must be quite certain that the contents of the database will result in the desired action. It is usually more prudent to specify the directive explicitly, using the following format:

(RESTART || START) [<string file_prefix default input_file_prefix>] \
                   [rtdb <string rtdb_file_name default file_prefix.db>]

The START directive indicates that the calculation is one in which a new database is to be created. Any relevant information that already exists in a previous database of the same name is destroyed. The string variable <file_prefix> will be used as the prefix to name any files created in the course of the calculation.

E.g., to start a new calculation on water, one might specify

start water

which will make all files begin with "water.".

If the user does not specify an entry for <file_prefix> on the START directive (or omits the START directive altogether), the code uses the base-name of the input file as the file prefix. That is, the variable <file_prefix> is assigned the name of the input file (not its full pathname), but without the last "dot-suffix". For example, the input file name /home/dave/job.2.nw yields job.2 as the file prefix, if a name is not assigned explicitly using the START directive.

The user also has the option of specifying a unique name for the database, using the keyword rtdb. When this keyword is entered, the string entered for rtdb_file_name is used as the database name. If the keyword rtdb is omitted, the name of the database defaults to file_prefix.db in the directory for permanent files.

If a calculation is to start from a previous calculation and go on using the existing database, the RESTART directive must be used. In such a case, the previous database must already exist. The name specified for <file_prefix> usually should not be changed when restarting a calculation. If it is changed, NWChem will not be able to find needed files when going on with the calculation.

In the most common situation, the previous calculation was completed (with or without an error condition), and it is desired to perform a new task or restart the previous one, perhaps with some input changes. In these instances, the RESTART directive should be used. This re-uses the previous database and associated files, and reads the input file for new input and task information.

The RESTART directive looks immediately for new input and task information, deleting information about previous incomplete tasks. For example, when doing a RESTART there is no need to specify geometry or basis set declaration because the program will detect this information since it is stored in the run-time database.

If a calculation runs out of time, for example because it is on a queuing system, this is another instance where doing a RESTART is advisable. Simply include nothing after the RESTART directive except those tasks that are unfinished.

To summarize the default options for this start-up directive, if the input file does not contain a START or a RESTART directive, then

  • the variable <file_prefix> is assigned the name of the input file for the job, without the suffix (which is usually .nw)
  • the variable <rtdb_file_name> is assigned the default name, file_prefix.db

If the database with name file_prefix.db does not already exist, the calculation is carried out as if a START directive had been encountered. If the database with name file_prefix.db does exist, then the calculation is performed as if a RESTART directive had been encountered.

For example, NWChem can be run using an input file with the name water.nw by typing the UNIX command line,

nwchem water.nw

If the NWChem input file water.nw does not contain a START or RESTART directive, the code sets the variable <file_prefix> to water. Files created by the job will have this prefix, and the database will be named water.db. If the database water.db does not exist already, the code behaves as if the input file contains the directive,

start water

If the database water.db does exist, the code behaves as if the input file contained the directive,

restart water


These are start-up directives that allow the user to specify the directory location of scratch and permanent files created by NWChem. NWChem distinguishes between permanent (or persistent) files and scratch (or temporary) files, and allows the user the option of putting them in different locations. In most installations, however, permanent and scratch files are all written to the current directory by default. What constitutes "local" disk space may also differ from machine to machine.

The conventions for file storage are at the discretion of the specific installation, and are quite likely to be different on different machines. When assigning locations for permanent and scratch files, the user must be cognizant of the characteristics of the installation on a particular platform. To consider just a few examples, on clusters, machine-specific or process-specific names must be supplied for both local and shared file systems, while on SMPs it is useful to specify scratch file directories with automated striping across processors with round-robin allocation. On SMP clusters (a.k.a. constellations), both of these specifications are required.

The SCRATCH_DIR and PERMANENT_DIR directives are identical in format and capability, and enable the user to specify a single directory for all processes, or different directories for different processes. The general form of the directive is as follows:

(PERMANENT_DIR || SCRATCH_DIR) [(<string host&>||<integer process>):]  <string directory>  [...]

Directories are extracted from the user input by executing the following steps, in sequence:

  1. Look for a directory qualified by the process ID number of the invoking process. Processes are numbered from zero. Else,
  2. If there is a list of directories qualified by the name of the host machineAs returned by util_hostname() which maps to the output of the command hostname on Unix workstations., then use round-robin allocation from the list for processes executing on the given host. Else,
  3. If there is a list of directories unqualified by any hostname or process ID, then use round-robin allocation from this list.

If directory allocation directive(s) are not specified in the input file, or if no match is found to the directory names specified by input using these directives, then the steps above are executed using the installation-specific defaults. If the code cannot find a valid directory name based on the input specified in either the directive(s) or the system defaults, files are automatically written to the current working directory (".").

The following is a list of examples of specific allocations of scratch directory locations:

  • Put scratch files from all processes in the local scratch directory (Warning: the definition of "local scratch directory" may change from machine to machine):
scratch_dir /localscratch
  • Put scratch files from Process 0 in /piofs/rjh, but put all other scratch files in /scratch:
scratch_dir /scratch 0:/piofs/rjh
  • Put scratch files from Process 0 in directory scr1, those from Process 1 in scr2, and so forth, in a round-robin fashion, using the given list of directories:
scratch_dir /scr1 /scr2 /scr3 /scr4 /scr5
  • Allocate files in a round-robin fashion from host-specific lists for processes distributed across two SGI multi-processor machines (node names coho and bohr):
scratch_dir coho:/xfs1/rjh coho:/xfs2/rjh coho:/xfs3/rjh  bohr:/disk01/rjh bohr:/disk02/rjh bohr:/disk13/rjh


This is a start-up directive that allows the user to specify the amount of memory PER PROCESSOR CORE that NWChem can use for the job. If this directive is not specified, memory is allocated according to installation-dependent defaults. The defaults should generally suffice for most calculations, since the defaults usually correspond to the total amount of memory available on the machine.

The general form of the directive is as follows:

MEMORY [[total] <integer total_size>]        \
        [stack <integer stack_size>]         \
        [heap <integer heap_size>]           \
        [global <integer global_size>]       \ 
        [units <string units default real>]  \ 
        [(verify||noverify)]                 \

NWChem recognizes the following memory units:

  • real and double (synonyms)
  • integer
  • real and double (synonyms)
  • integer
  • byte
  • kb (kilobytes)
  • mb (megabytes)
  • mw (megawords, 64-bit word)

In most cases, the user need specify only the total memory limit to adjust the amount of memory used by NWChem. The following specifications all provide for eight megabytes of total memory (assuming 64-bit floating point numbers), which will be distributed according to the default partitioning:

memory 1048576 
memory 1048576 real 
memory 1 mw
memory 8 mb 
memory total 8 mb 
memory total 1048576

In NWChem there are three distinct regions of memory: stack, heap, and global. Stack and heap are node-private, while the union of the global region on all processors is used to provide globally-shared memory. The allowed limits on each category are determined from a default partitioning (currently 25% heap, 25% stack, and 50% global). Alternatively, the keywords stack, heap, and global can be used to define specific allocations for each of these categories. If the user sets only one of the stack, heap, or global limits by input, the limits for the other two categories are obtained by partitioning the remainder of the total memory available in proportion to the weight of those two categories in the default memory partitioning. If two of the category limits are given, the third is obtained by subtracting the two given limits from the total limit (which may have been specified or may be a default value). If all three category limits are specified, they determine the total memory allocated. However, if the total memory is also specified, it must be larger than the sum of all three categories. The code will abort if it detects an inconsistent memory specification.

The following memory directives also allocate 8 megabytes, but specify a complete partitioning as well:

memory total 8 stack 2 heap 2 global 4 mb 
memory stack 2 heap 2 global 4 mb

The optional keywords verify and noverify in the directive give the user the option of enabling or disabling automatic detection of corruption of allocated memory. The default is verify, which enables the feature. This incurs some overhead (which can be around 10% increase in walltime on some platforms), which can be eliminated by specifying noverify.

The keywords hardfail and nohardfail give the user the option of forcing (or not forcing) the local memory management routines to generate an internal fatal error if any memory operation fails. The default is nohardfail, which allows the code to continue past any memory operation failure, and perhaps generate a more meaningful error message before terminating the calculation. Forcing a hard-fail can be useful when poorly coded applications do not check the return status of memory management routines.

When assigning the specific memory allocations using the keywords stack, heap, and global in the MEMORY directive, the user should be aware that some of the distinctions among these categories of memory have been blurred in their actual implementation in the code. The memory allocator (MA) allocates both the heap and the stack from a single memory region of size heap+stack, without enforcing the partition. The heap vs. stack partition is meaningful only to applications developers, and can be ignored by most users. Further complicating matters, the global array (GA) toolkit is allocated from within the MA space on distributed memory machines, while on shared-memory machines it is separate. This is because on true shared-memory machines there is no choice but to allocate GAs from within a shared-memory segment, which is managed differently by the operating system.

On distributed memory platforms, the MA region is actually the total size of stack+heap+global. All three types of memory allocation compete for the same pool of memory, with no limits except on the total available memory. This relaxation of the memory category definitions usually benefits the user, since it can allow allocation requests to succeed where a stricter memory model would cause the directive to fail. These implementation characteristics must be kept in mind when reading program output that relates to memory usage.

Standard default for memory is currently 400 MB.


This start-up directive is provided as a convenient way to include a listing of the input file in the output of a calculation. It causes the entire input file to be printed to Fortran unit six (standard output). It has no keywords, arguments, or options, and consists of the single line:


The ECHO directive is processed only once, by Process 0 when the input file is read.


Specify job title.

This top-level directive allows the user to identify a job or series of jobs that use a particular database. It is an optional directive, and if omitted, the character string containing the input title will be empty. Multiple TITLE directives may appear in the input file (e.g., the water example file) in which case a task will use the one most recently specified. The format for the directive is as follows:

TITLE <string title>

The character string <title> is assigned to the contents of the string following the TITLE directive. If the string contains white space, it must be surrounded by double quotes. For example,

title "This is the title of my NWChem job"

The title is stored in the database and will be used in all subsequent tasks/jobs until redefined in the input.


The PRINT and NOPRINT directives allow the user to control how much output NWChem generates. These two directives are special in that the compound directives for all modules are supposed to recognize them. Each module can control both the overall print level (general verbosity) and the printing of individual items which are identified by name (see below). The standard form of the PRINT directive is as follows:

PRINT [(none || low || medium || high || debug) default medium]  [<string list_of_names ... >]
NOPRINT <string list_of_names ... >

The default print level is medium.

Every output that is printed by NWChem has a print threshold associated with it. If this threshold is equal to or lower than the print level requested by the user, then the output is generated. For example, the threshold for printing the SCF energy at convergence is low. This means that if the user-specified print level on the PRINT directive is low, medium, high, or debug, then the SCF energy will be printed at convergence.

The overall print level specified using the PRINT directive is a convenient tool for controlling the verbosity of NWChem. Setting the print level to high might be helpful in diagnosing convergence problems. The print level of debug might also be of use in evaluating problem cases, but the user should be aware that this can generate a huge amount of output. Setting the print level to low might be the preferable choice for geometry optimizations that will perform many steps which are in themselves of little interest to the user.

In addition, it is possible to enable the printing of specific items by naming them in the PRINT directive in the <list_of_names>. Items identified in this way will be printed, regardless of the overall print level specified. Similarly, the NOPRINT directive can be used to suppress the printing of specific items by naming them in its <list_of_names>. These items will not be printed, regardless of the overall print level, or the specific print level of the individual items.

The list of items that can be printed for each module is documented as part of the input instructions for that module. The items recognized by the top level of the code, and their thresholds, are:

Name 'Print Level;' Description
"total time"; medium Print cpu and wall time at job end
"task time" high Print cpu and wall time for each task
"rtdb" high Print names of RTDB entries
"rtdbvalues" high Print name and values of RTDB entries
"ga summary" medium Summarize GA allocations at job end
"ga stats" high Print GA usage statistics at job end
"ma summary" medium Summarize MA allocations at job end
"ma stats" high Print MA usage statistics at job end
"version" debug Print version number of all compiled routines
"tcgmsg" never Print TCGMSG debug information

Top Level Print Control Specifications

The following example shows how a PRINT directive for the top level process can be used to limit printout to only essential information. The directive is

print none "ma stats" rtdb

This directive instructs the NWChem main program to print nothing, except for the memory usage statistics (ma stats) and the names of all items stored in the database at the end of the job.

The print level within a module is inherited from the calling layer. For instance, by specifying the print to be low within the MP2 module will cause the SCF, CPHF and gradient modules when invoked from the MP2 to default to low print. Explicit user input of print thresholds overrides the inherited value.


This top-level directive allows the user to enter data directly into the run-time database. The format of the directive is as follows:

SET <string name> [<string type default automatic>] <type data>

The entry for variable <name> is the name of data to be entered into the database. This must be specified; there is no default. The variable <type>, which is optional, allows the user to define a string specifying the type of data in the array <name>. The data type can be explicitly specified as integer, real, double, logical, or string. If no entry for <type> is specified on the directive, its value is inferred from the data type of the first datum. In such a case, floating-point data entered using this directive must include either an exponent or a decimal point, to ensure that the correct default type will be inferred. The correct default type will be inferred for logical values if logical-true values are specified as .true., true, or t, and logical-false values are specified as .false., false, or f. One exception to the automatic detection of the data type is that the data type must be explicitly stated to input integer ranges, unless the first element in the list is an integer that is not a range. For example,

set atomid 1 3:7 21

will be interpreted as a list of integers. However,

set atomid 3:7 21 

will not work since the first element will be interpreted as a string and not an integer. To work around this feature, use instead

set atomid integer 3:7 21

which says to write three through seven, as well as twenty-one.

The SET directive is useful for providing indirection by associating the name of a basis set or geometry with the standard object names (such as "ao basis" or geometry) used by NWChem. The following input file shows an example using the SET directive to direct different tasks to different geometries. The required input lines are as follows:

title "Ar dimer BSSE corrected MP2 interaction energy" 
geometry "Ar+Ar" 
  Ar1 0 0 0 
  Ar2 0 0 2 
geometry "Ar+ghost" 
  Ar1 0 0 0 
  Bq2 0 0 2 
  Ar1 library aug-cc-pvdz 
  Ar2 library aug-cc-pvdz 
  Bq2 library Ar aug-cc-pvdz 
set geometry "Ar+Ar" task mp2 
scf; vectors atomic; end
set geometry "Ar+ghost" task mp2 

This input tells the code to perform MP2 energy calculations on an argon dimer in the first task, and then on the argon atom in the presence of the "ghost" basis of the other atom.

The SET directive can also be used as an indirect means of supplying input to a part of the code that does not have a separate input module (e.g., the atomic SCF). Additional examples of applications of this directive can be found in the sample input files, and its usage with basis sets and geometries. Also see database section for an example of how to store an array in the database.


Delete data in the RTDB.

This directive gives the user a way to delete simple entries from the database. The general form of the directive is as follows:

UNSET <string name>[*]

This directive cannot be used with complex objects such as geometries and basis sets. Complex objects are stored using a structured naming convention that is not matched by a simple wild card. A wild-card (*) specified at the end of the string <name> will cause all entries whose name begins with that string to be deleted. This is very useful as a way to reset modules to their default behavior, since modules typically store information in the database with names that begin with module:. For example, the SCF program can be restored to its default behavior by deleting all database entries beginning with scf:, using the directive

unset scf:*

Section -sec:fragguess- has an example using unset on a water dimer calculation.

The following example makes an entry in the database using the SET directive, and then immediately deletes it using the UNSET directive:

set mylist 1 2 3 4 
unset mylist


Terminate processing.

This top-level directive provides a convenient way of verifying an input file without actually running the calculation. It consists of the single line,


As soon as this directive is encountered, all processing ceases and the calculation terminates with an error condition.


The TASK directive is used to tell the code what to do. The input directives are parsed sequentially until a TASK directive is encountered, as described in Input File Structure. At that point, the calculation or operation specified in the TASK directive is performed. When that task is completed, the code looks for additional input to process until the next TASK directive is encountered, which is then executed. This process continues to the end of the input file. NWChem expects the last directive before the end-of-file to be a TASK directive. If it is not, a warning message is printed. Since the database is persistent, multiple tasks within one job behave exactly the same as multiple restart jobs with the same sequence of input.

There are four main forms of the the TASK directive. The most common form is used to tell the code at what level of theory to perform an electronic structure calculation, and which specific calculations to perform. The second form is used to specify tasks that do not involve electronic structure calculations or tasks that have not been fully implemented at all theory levels in NWChem, such as simple property evaluations. The third form is used to execute UNIX commands on machines having a Bourne shell. The fourth form is specific to combined quantum-mechanics and molecular-mechanics (QM/MM) calculations.

By default, the program terminates when a task does not complete successfully. The keyword ignore can be used to prevent this termination, and is recognized by all forms of the TASK directive. When a TASK directive includes the keyword ignore, a warning message is printed if the task fails, and code execution continues with the next task. An example of this feature is given in the sample input file.

The input options, keywords, and defaults for each of these four forms for the TASK directive are discussed in the following sections.

TASK Directive for Electronic Structure

This is the most commonly used version of the TASK directive, and it has the following form:

TASK <string theory> [<string operation default energy>] [ignore]

The string <theory> specifies the level of theory to be used in the calculations for this task. NWChem currently supports ten different options. These are listed below, with the corresponding entry for the variable <theory>:

  • scf - Hartree-Fock
  • dft - Density functional theory for molecules
  • sodft - Spin-Orbit Density functional theory
  • mp2 - MP2 using a semi-direct algorithm
  • direct_mp2 - MP2 using a full-direct algorithm
  • rimp2 - MP2 using the RI approximation
  • ccsd - Coupled-cluster single and double excitations
  • ccsd(t) - Coupled-cluster linearized triples approximation
    1. ccsd+t(ccsd)# - Fourth order triples contribution
  • mcscf - Multiconfiguration SCF
  • selci - Selected configuration interaction with perturbation correction
  • md - Classical molecular dynamics simulation
  • pspw - Pseudopotential plane-wave density functional theory for molecules and insulating solids using NWPW
  • band - Pseudopotential plane-wave density functional theory for solids using NWPW
  • tce - Tensor Contraction Engine

The string <operation> specifies the calculation that will be performed in the task. The default operation is a single point energy evaluation. The following list gives the selection of operations currently available in NWChem:

  • energy - Evaluate the single point energy.
  • gradient - Evaluate the derivative of the energy with respect to nuclear coordinates.
  • optimize - Minimize the energy by varying the molecular structure. By default, this geometry optimization is presently driven by the Driver module, but the Stepper module may also be used.
  • saddle - Conduct a search for a transition state (or saddle point) using either Driver module (the default) or Stepper.
  • hessian - Compute second derivatives. See hessian section for analytic hessians.
  • frequencies or freq - Compute second derivatives and print out an analysis of molecular vibrations. See vibration section for controls for vibration calculations.
  • property - Calculate the properties for the wave function.
  • dynamics - Perform classical molecular dynamics.
  • thermodynamics - Perform multi-configuration thermo-dynamic integration using classical MD

NOTE: See PSPW Tasks for the complete list of operations that accompany the NWPW module.

The user should be aware that some of these operations (gradient, optimize, dynamics, thermodynamics) require computation of derivatives of the energy with respect to the molecular coordinates. If analytical derivatives are not available (Capabilities), they must be computed numerically, which can be very computationally intensive.

Here are some examples of the TASK directive, to illustrate the input needed to specify particular calculations with the code. To perform a single point energy evaluation using any level of theory, the directive is very simple, since the energy evaluation is the default for the string operation. For an SCF energy calculation, the input line is simply

task scf

Equivalently, the operation can be specified explicitly, using the directive

task scf energy

Similarly, to perform a geometry optimization using density functional theory, the TASK directive is

task dft optimize

The optional keyword ignore can be used to allow execution to continue even if the task fails, as discussed above. An example with the keyword ignore can be found in the DFT example.

TASK Directive for Special Operations

This form of the TASK directive is used in instances where the task to be performed does not fit the model of the previous version (such as execution of a Python program), or if the operation has not yet been implemented in a fashion that applies to a wide range of theories (e.g., property evaluation). Instead of requiring theory and operation as input, the directive needs only a string identifying the task. The form of the directive in such cases is as follows:

TASK <string task> [ignore]

The supported tasks that can be accessed with this form of the TASK directive are listed below, with the corresponding entries for string variable <task>.

  • python - Execute a Python program.
  • rtdbprint - Print the contents of the database.
  • cphf - Invoke the CPHF module.
  • property - Perform miscellaneous property calculations.
  • dplot - Execute a DPLOT run.

This directive also recognizes the keyword ignore, which allows execution to continue after a task has failed.

TASK Directive for Bourne Shell

This form of the TASK directive is supported only on machines with a fully UNIX-style operating system. This directive causes specified processes to be executed using the Bourne shell. This form of the task directive is:

TASK shell [(<integer-range process = 0>||all)]  <string command>

The keyword shell is required for this directive. It specifies that the given command will be executed in the Bourne shell. The user can also specify which process(es) will execute this command by entering values for process on the directive. The default is for only process zero to execute the command. A range of processes may be specified, using Fortran triplet notation. Alternatively, all processes can be specified simply by entering the keyword all. The input entered for command must form a single string, and must consist of valid UNIX command(s). If the string includes white space, it must be enclosed in double quotes.

For example, the TASK directive to tell process zero to copy the molecular orbitals file to a backup location /piofs/save can be input as follows:

task shell "cp *.movecs /piofs/save"

The TASK directive to tell all processes to list the contents of their /scratch directories is as follows:

task shell all "ls -l /scratch"

The TASK directive to tell processes 0 to 10 to remove the contents of the current directory is as follows:

task shell 0:10:1 "/bin/rm -f *"

Note that NWChem's ability to quote special input characters is very limited when compared with that of the Bourne shell. To execute all but the simplest UNIX commands, it is usually much easier to put the shell script in a file and execute the file from within NWChem.

TASK Directive for QM/MM simulations

This is very similar to the most commonly used version of the TASK directive, and it has the following form:

TASK QMMM <string theory> [<string operation default energy>] [ignore]

The string <theory> specifies the QM theory to be used in the QM/MM simulation. If theory is "md" this is not a QM/MM simulation and will result in an appropriate error. The level of theory may be any QM method that can compute gradients but those algorithms in NWChem that do not support analytic gradients should be avoided (see Functionality).

The string <operation> is used to specify the calculation that will be performed in the QM/MM task. The default operation is a single point energy evaluation. The following list gives the selection of operations currently available in the NWChem QM/MM module;

  • energy - single point energy evaluation
  • optimize - minimize the energy by variation of the molecular structure.
  • dynamics - molecular dynamics using nwARGOS

Here are some examples of the TASK directive for QM/MM simulations. To perform a single point energy of a QM/MM system using any QM level of theory, the directive is very simple. As with the general task directive, the QM/MM energy evaluation is the default. For a DFT energy calculation the task directive input is,

task qmmm dft

or completely as

task qmmm dft energy

To do a molecular dynamics simulation of a QM/MM system using the SCF level of theory the task directive input would be

task qmmm scf dynamics

The optional keyword ignore can be used to allow execution to continue even if the task fails, as discussed above.

TASK Directive for BSSE calculations

NWChem computes the basis set superposition error (BSSE) when two or more fragments are interacting by using the counterpoise method. This directive is performed if the BSSE section is present. Single point energies, energy gradients, geometry optimizations, Hessians and frequencies, at the level of theory that allows these tasks, can be obtained with the BSSE correction. The input options for the BSSE section are:

 MON <string monomer name> <integer natoms>  
 [INPUT [<string input>]]  
 [INPUT_WGHOST[<string input>]]  
 [CHARGE [<real charge>]]  

MON defines the monomer's name and its atoms; <string monomer name> defines the name of the monomer, <integer atoms> is the list of atoms corresponding to the monomer (where such a list is relative to the initial geometry). This information is needed for each monomer. With the tag INPUT the user can modify any calculation attributes for each monomer without ghost. For example, the iterations number and the grid can be changed in a DFT calculation (see the example of the interaction between Zn2 + and water). INPUT_WGHOST is the same than INPUT but for the monomer with ghost. The input changes will be applied within this and for the following calculations, you should be cautious reverting the changes for the next monomers. CHARGE assigns a charge to a monomer and it must be consistent with the total charge in the whole system (see Section -sec:charge-). The options OFF and ON turns off and on any BSSE calculation.

The energy evaluation involves 1 + 2N calculations, i.e. one for the supermolecule and two for the N monomers. [S. Simon, M. Duran, J. J. Dannenberg, J. Chem. Phys., 105, 11024 (1996)] NWChem stores the vector files for each calculation (<string monomer name>.bsse.movecs), and one hessian file (<string monomer name>.bsse.hess). The code does not assign automatically the basis set for the ghost atoms, you must assign the corresponding bqX for each element, instead.


The dimer (FH)2

title dimer
start dimer
geometry units angstrom
  symmetry c1 
  F 1.47189 2.47463 -0.00000 
  H 1.47206 3.29987 0.00000  
  F 1.46367 -0.45168 0.00000 
  H 1.45804 0.37497 -0.00000
basis "ao basis" 
  F library 6-31G 
  H library 6-31G 
  bqF library F 6-31G 
  bqH library H 6-31G
dft; xc slater 1.0 vwn_5 1.0; direct; end
 mon first 1 2 
 mon second 3 4
task dft energy

Changing maxiter for a specific monomer: Zn2 + (H2O)

title znwater
start znwater
geometry noautoz units angstrom
  symmetry c1 
  Zn -1.89334 -0.72741 -0.00000 
  O -0.20798 0.25012 0.00000  
  H -0.14200 1.24982 -0.00000 
  H 0.69236 -0.18874 -0.00000
basis "ao basis" 
  O library 6-31G 
  Zn library 6-31G 
  H library 6-31G 
  bqO library O 6-31G 
  bqZn library Zn 6-31G 
  bqH library H 6-31G
charge 2
scf; direct; end
mp2; end
 mon metal 1 
 charge 2 
 input_wghost "scf\; maxiter 200\; end" 
 mon water 2 3 4
task mp2 optimize


The ECCE_PRINT directive allows the user to print out a file, usually called ecce.out, that will allow the calculation and its results to be imported into Ecce (see

ECCE_PRINT <string name>

The entry for variable <name> is the name of the file that will contain the Ecce import information and should include the full path to the directory where you want that file. For example

ecce_print /home/user/job/ecce.out

If the full path is not given and only the file name is given, the file will be located in whatever directory the job is started in. For example, if the line

ecce_print ecce.out

is in the input file, the file could end up in the scratch directory if the user is using a batch script that copies the input file to a local scratch directory and then launches NWChem from there. If the system then automatically removes files in the scratch space at the end of the job, the ecce.out file will be lost. So, the best practice is to include the full path name for the file.