First published as an Advance Article on the web 25th June 2004 Recent progress in the theoretical treatment of electronically nonadiabatic processes is discussed. First we discuss the generalized Born–Oppenheimer approximation, which identifies a subset of strongly coupled states, and the relative advantages and disadvantages of adiabatic and diabatic representations of the coupled surfaces and their interactions are considered. Ab initio diabatic representations that do not require tracking geometric phases or calculating singular nonadiabatic nuclear momentum coupling will be presented as one promising approach for characterizing the coupled electronic states of polyatomic photochemical systems. Such representations can be accomplished by methods based on functionals of the adiabatic electronic density matrix and the identification of reference orbitals for use in an overlap criterion. Next, four approaches to calculating or modeling electronically nonadiabatic dynamics are discussed: (1) accurate quantum mechanical scattering calculations, (2) approximate wave packet methods, (3) surface hopping, and (4) self-consistent-potential semiclassical approaches. The last two of these are particularly useful for polyatomic photochemistry, and recent refinements of these approaches will b
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