Octopus is a density functional theory code focusing on time-dependent simulations. It supports several other calculation modes as well.

This page documents the ASE interface to Octopus. The interface is written for Octopus tetricus (svn version 14450 or newer) but may be compatible with older versions as well.


Structure optimization

Structure optimization of ethanol molecule:

from ase.collections import g2
from ase.calculators.octopus import Octopus
from ase.optimize import QuasiNewton

# Ethanol molecule with somewhat randomized initial positions:
system = g2['CH3CH2OH']
system.rattle(stdev=0.1, seed=42)

calc = Octopus(label='ethanol',

opt = QuasiNewton(system, logfile='opt.log', trajectory='opt.traj')

Numerical parameters can be specified as strings as well.

The Octopus default BoxShape is used unless specified otherwise. This means that the cell of non-periodic Atoms is ignored unless BoxShape = parallelepiped. In the calculation above, if BoxShape is removed, the calculation will default to BoxShape = minimum and the specified vacuum will have no effect.

Periodic system

Calculate density of states of silicon:

from ase.calculators.octopus import Octopus
from ase.build import bulk

system = bulk('Si', orthorhombic=True)

calc = Octopus(label='silicon',
               KPointsGrid=[[4, 4, 4]],
               Output='dos + density + potential',


Note how a block such as KPointsGrid is specified as a list of lists. In general, a block is a list of lists of strings. Numerical datatypes are converted to strings.

Time-dependent density functional theory

TODO Write script

Additional information

The interface works by reading and writing files. When triggering a calculation, ASE writes an input file and proceeds to run Octopus. Almost any keywords can be given to the Octopus calculator, and they will be passed almost uncritically to Octopus. This results in mostly predictable but at times non-user-friendly behaviour.

ASE always works with Units = ev_angstrom. Keywords that attempt to interfere with this will result in an error, or unspecified behaviour if there are unhandled cases.

By default, Octopus output is written under the directory ink-pool. The label keyword can be used to specify a different directory.


Octopus input files can be loaded by the ASE GUI. You can visualize an Octopus input file by running ase gui inp.

Bugs and misbehaviour

Please report misbehaviour to the ASE-developers unless you are certain that the behaviour is linked to Octopus and not the ASE interface.

Below are listed some known bugs, issues, and limitations. These may or may not be fixed, depending on user response.

  • When parsing input files, arithmetic, calls to GNU GSL, or assignments from keywords are presently unsupported. Only statements of the form keyword = value or blocks are supported.
  • Most Octopus keywords are passed directly to Octopus. The ASE interface itself is not logically aware of their meaning. Only those necessary to construct the Atoms are handled individually. There may exist keywords that affect the Atoms (the cell or geometry) which are not handled by the interface, and therefore result in confusing behaviour. In particular, avoid changing the units.
  • Subsequent calculations always overwrite files. This is probably fine for densities in a structure optimization (the density is reused on each step), but not useful for text output. Therefore, avoid keywords like stdout='"out.log"' and redirect stdout and stderr by other means.