Quantum mechanical fragment methods based on partitioning atoms or partitioning coordinates

Bo Wang, Ke R. Yang, Xuefei Xu, Miho Isegawa, Hannah R. Leverentz, Donald G. Truhlar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


ConspectusThe development of more efficient and more accurate ways to represent reactive potential energy surfaces is a requirement for extending the simulation of large systems to more complex systems, longer-time dynamical processes, and more complete statistical mechanical sampling. One way to treat large systems is by direct dynamics fragment methods. Another way is by fitting system-specific analytic potential energy functions with methods adapted to large systems. Here we consider both approaches.First we consider three fragment methods that allow a given monomer to appear in more than one fragment. The first two approaches are the electrostatically embedded many-body (EE-MB) expansion and the electrostatically embedded many-body expansion of the correlation energy (EE-MB-CE), which we have shown to yield quite accurate results even when one restricts the calculations to include only electrostatically embedded dimers. The third fragment method is the electrostatically embedded molecular tailoring approach (EE-MTA), which is more flexible than EE-MB and EE-MB-CE. We show that electrostatic embedding greatly improves the accuracy of these approaches compared with the original unembedded approaches.Quantum mechanical fragment methods share with combined quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical (QM/MM) methods the need to treat a quantum mechanical fragment in the presence of the rest of the system, which is especially challenging for those parts of the rest of the system that are close to the boundary of the quantum mechanical fragment. This is a delicate matter even for fragments that are not covalently bonded to the rest of the system, but it becomes even more difficult when the boundary of the quantum mechanical fragment cuts a bond. We have developed a suite of methods for more realistically treating interactions across such boundaries. These methods include redistributing and balancing the external partial atomic charges and the use of tuned fluorine atoms for capping dangling bonds, and we have shown that they can greatly improve the accuracy.Finally we present a new approach that goes beyond QM/MM by combining the convenience of molecular mechanics with the accuracy of fitting a potential function to electronic structure calculations on a specific system. To make the latter practical for systems with a large number of degrees of freedom, we developed a method to interpolate between local internal-coordinate fits to the potential energy. A key issue for the application to large systems is that rather than assigning the atoms or monomers to fragments, we assign the internal coordinates to reaction, secondary, and tertiary sets. Thus, we make a partition in coordinate space rather than atom space. Fits to the local dependence of the potential energy on tertiary coordinates are arrayed along a preselected reaction coordinate at a sequence of geometries called anchor points; the potential energy function is called an anchor points reactive potential.Electrostatically embedded fragment methods and the anchor points reactive potential, because they are based on treating an entire system by quantum mechanical electronic structure methods but are affordable for large and complex systems, have the potential to open new areas for accurate simulations where combined QM/MM methods are inadequate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2731-2738
Number of pages8
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 16 2014

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© 2014 American Chemical Society.


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