High level ab initio calculations have been carried out to assess the pairwise additivity of potentials in the attractive or well regions of the potential surfaces of clusters of helium atoms. A large basis set was employed and calculations were done at the Brueckner orbital coupled cluster level. Differences between calculated potentials for several interacting atoms and the corresponding summed pair potentials reveal the three‐body and certain higher order contributions to the interaction strengths. Attraction between rare gas atoms develops from dispersion, and so helium clusters provide the most workable systems for analyzing nonadditivity of dispersion. The results indicate that the many‐body or nonpairwise contributions tend to be less than a few percent of the attractive interaction across regions around the minima of the potential energy surfaces of small clusters. Dipole–dipole–dipole dispersion and dipole–dipole–quadrupole dispersion are noticeable parts of the small three‐body terms.

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Copyright © 1993, AIP Publishing. This article first appeared in The Journal of Chemical Physics: 98:1 (1993), 437-443.

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