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Computation of methodology-independent ionic solvation free energies from molecular simulations. I. The electrostatic potential in molecular liquids



Computation of methodology-independent ionic solvation free energies from molecular simulations. I. The electrostatic potential in molecular liquids



Journal of Chemical Physics 124(12): 124106



The computation of ionic solvation free energies from atomistic simulations is a surprisingly difficult problem that has found no satisfactory solution for more than 15 years. The reason is that the charging free energies evaluated from such simulations are affected by very large errors. One of these is related to the choice of a specific convention for summing up the contributions of solvent charges to the electrostatic potential in the ionic cavity, namely, on the basis of point charges within entire solvent molecules (M scheme) or on the basis of individual point charges (P scheme). The use of an inappropriate convention may lead to a charge-independent offset in the calculated potential, which depends on the details of the summation scheme, on the quadrupole-moment trace of the solvent molecule, and on the approximate form used to represent electrostatic interactions in the system. However, whether the M or P scheme (if any) represents the appropriate convention is still a matter of on-going debate. The goal of the present article is to settle this long-standing controversy by carefully analyzing (both analytically and numerically) the properties of the electrostatic potential in molecular liquids (and inside cavities within them). Restricting the discussion to real liquids of "spherical" solvent molecules (represented by a classical solvent model with a single van der Waals interaction site), it is concluded that (i) for Coulombic (or straight-cutoff truncated) electrostatic interactions, the M scheme is the appropriate way of calculating the electrostatic potential; (ii) for non-Coulombic interactions deriving from a continuously differentiable function, both M and P schemes generally deliver an incorrect result (for which an analytical correction must be applied); and (iii) finite-temperature effects, including intermolecular orientation correlations and a preferential orientational structure in the neighborhood of a liquid-vacuum interface, must be taken into account. Applications of these results to the computation methodology-independent ionic solvation free energies from molecular simulations will be the scope of a forthcoming article.

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Accession: 048617247

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PMID: 16599661

DOI: 10.1063/1.2172593


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