A Seamless Grid-Based Interface for Mean-Field QM/MM Coupled with Efficient Solvation Free Energy Calculations

HK Lim and H Lee and H Kim, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL THEORY AND COMPUTATION, 12, 5088-5099 (2016).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jctc.6b00469

Among various models that incorporate solvation effects into first- principles-based electronic structure theory such as density functional theory (DFT), the average solvent electrostatic potential/molecular dynamics (ASEP/MD) method is particularly advantageous. This method explicitly includes the nature of complicated solvent structures that is absent in implicit solvation methods. Because the ASEP/MD method treats only solvent molecule dynamics, it requires less computational cost than the conventional quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) approaches. Herein, we present a real-space rectangular grid-based method to implement the mean-field QM/MM idea of ASEP/MD to plane-wave DFT, which is termed "DFT in classical explicit solvents", or DFT-CES. By employing a three-dimensional real-space grid as a communication medium, we can treat the electrostatic interactions between the DFT solute and the ASEP sampled from MD simulations in a seamless and straightforward manner. Moreover, we couple a fast and efficient free energy calculation method based on the two-phase thermodynamic (2PT) model with our DFT-CES method, which enables direct and simultaneous computation of the solvation free energies as well as the geometric and electronic responses of a solute of interest under the solvation effect. With the aid of DFT-CES/2PT, we investigate the solvation free energies and detailed solvation thermodynamics for 17 types of organic molecules, which show good agreement with the experimental data. We further compare our simulation results with previous theoretical models and assumptions made for the development of implicit solvation models. We anticipate that our proposed method, DFT-CES/2PT, will enable vast utilization of the ASEP/MD method for investigating solvation properties of materials by using periodic DFT calculations in the future.

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