Isomerization kinetics of flexible molecules in the gas phase: Atomistic versus coarse-grained sampling

C Falvo and A Gamboa-Suarez and S Cazayus-Claverie and P Parneix and F Calvo, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 149, 072334 (2018).

DOI: 10.1063/1.5026688

Isomerization kinetics of molecules in the gas phase naturally falls on the microcanonical ensemble of statistical mechanics, which for small systems might significantly differ from the more traditional canonical ensemble. In this work, we explore the examples of cis-trans isomerization in butane and bibenzyl and to what extent the fully atomistic rate constants in isolated molecules can be reproduced by coarse-graining the system into a lower dimensional potential of mean force (PMF) along a reaction coordinate of interest, the orthogonal degrees of freedom acting as a canonical bath in a Langevin description. Time independent microcanonical rate constants can be properly defined from appropriate state residence time correlation functions; however, the resulting rate constants acquire some time dependence upon canonical averaging of initial conditions. Stationary rate constants are recovered once the molecule is placed into a real condensed environment pertaining to the canonical ensemble. The effective one-dimensional kinetics along the PMF, based on appropriately chosen inertia and damping parameters, quantitatively reproduces the atomistic rate constants at short times but deviates systematically over long times owing to the neglect of some couplings between the system and the bath that are all intrinsically present in the atomistic treatment. In bibenzyl, where stronger temperature effects are noted than in butane, the effective Langevin dynamics along the PMF still performs well at short times, indicating the potential interest of this extremely simplified approach for sampling high-dimensional energy surfaces and evaluating reaction rate constants. Published by AIP Publishing.

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