Density functional theory and molecular dynamics study of the uranyl ion (UO2)(2+)

N Rodriguez-Jeangros and JM Seminario, JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR MODELING, 20, 2150 (2014).

DOI: 10.1007/s00894-014-2150-7

The detection of uranium is very important, especially in water and, more importantly, in the form of uranyl ion (UO2)(2+), which is one of its most abundant moieties. Here, we report analyses and simulations of uranyl in water using ab initio modified force fields for water with improved parameters and charges of uranyl. We use a TIP4P model, which allows us to obtain accurate water properties such as the boiling point and the second and third shells of water molecules in the radial distribution function thanks to a fictitious charge that corrects the 3-point models by reproducing the exact dipole moment of the water molecule. We also introduced non-bonded interaction parameters for the water-uranyl intermolecular force field. Special care was taken in testing the effect of a range of uranyl charges on the structure of uranyl-water complexes. Atomic charges of the solvated ion in water were obtained using density functional theory (DFT) calculations taking into account the presence of nitrate ions in the solution, forming a neutral ensemble. DFT-based force fields were calculated in such a way that water properties, such as the boiling point or the pair distribution function stand. Finally, molecular dynamics simulations of a water box containing uranyl cations and nitrate anions are performed at room temperature. The three peaks in the oxygen-oxygen radial distribution function for water were found to be kept in the presence of uranyl thanks to the improvement of interaction parameters and charges. Also, we found three shells of water molecules surrounding the uranyl ion instead of two as was previously thought.

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