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Hybrid Quantum Mechanics/Molecular Mechanics Solvation Scheme for Computing Free Energies of Reactions at Metal-Water Interfaces

Faheem, M.; Heyden, A.

Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation 10(8): 3354-3368

2014

We report the development of a quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics free energy perturbation (QM/MM-FEP) method for modeling chemical reactions at metal-water interfaces. This novel solvation scheme combines planewave density function theory (DFT), periodic electrostatic embedded cluster method (PEECM) calculations using Gaussian-type orbitals, and classical molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to obtain a free energy description of a complex metal-water system. We derive a potential of mean force (PMF) of the reaction system within the QM/MM framework. A fixed-size, finite ensemble of MM conformations is used to permit precise evaluation of the PMF of QM coordinates and its gradient defined within this ensemble. Local conformations of adsorbed reaction moieties are optimized using sequential MD-sampling and QM-optimization steps. An approximate reaction coordinate is constructed using a number of interpolated states and the free energy difference between adjacent states is calculated using the QM/MM-FEP method. By avoiding on-the-fly QM calculations and by circumventing the challenges associated with statistical averaging during MD sampling, a computational speedup of multiple orders of magnitude is realized. The method is systematically validated against the results of ab initio QM calculations and demonstrated for C-C cleavage in double-dehydrogenated ethylene glycol on a Pt (111) model surface.

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