Much of the information I find is about super-cells. What about for a single unit cell? Is it necessary to add a vacuum space?


1 Answer 1


In a single unit cell calculation, the inclusion of vacuum space depends on the specific requirements and characteristics of your system. Here are a few situations that you should consider about adding vacuum space:

  • Surface effects: If your system has significant surface effects or interactions between neighboring unit cells, adding vacuum space can help minimize these effects. Vacuum acts as a buffer to reduce the interactions between periodic images of your system.
  • Simulating isolated systems: If you are interested in simulating an isolated molecule or a small cluster, adding vacuum is not necessary since there are no neighboring unit cells to consider. In this case, you can omit the vacuum space.
  • Computational efficiency: Including a large vacuum region can significantly increase the computational cost of your calculation. If your system does not require a large vacuum, it may be more efficient to reduce the vacuum size to a minimum while still ensuring that the interactions between periodic images are negligible.
  • Accuracy of XPS calculations: For XPS calculations, it is generally recommended to include enough vacuum space to minimize surface effects and to accurately simulate the interaction between the photoelectron and the material. However, the specific vacuum size required may depend on the system and the level of accuracy desired.
  • Monolayers: In 2D materials, if you want to study a single monolayer, then you will need to add enough vacuum space between the repeating images so that you simulate an isolated single layer of that 2D material, otherwise you will be dealing with the bulk version of that material or structure.

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