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Quantum mechanical force fields for condensed phase molecular simulations

Quantum mechanical force fields for condensed phase molecular simulations

Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter vol. 29  p. 383002-383016  DOI: 10.1088/1361-648X/aa7c5c
PMID/PMCID: PMC5821073 Published: 2017-08-17 

Timothy J. Giese
Darrin M. York


Molecular simulations are powerful tools for providing atomic-level details into complex chemical and physical processes that occur in the condensed phase. For strongly interacting systems where quantum many-body effects are known to play an important role, density-functional methods are often used to provide the model with the potential energy used to drive dynamics. These methods, however, suffer from two major drawbacks. First, they are often too computationally intensive to practically apply to large systems over long time scales, limiting their scope of application. Second, there remain challenges for these models to obtain the necessary level of accuracy for weak non-bonded interactions to obtain quantitative accuracy for a wide range of condensed phase properties. Quantum mechanical force fields (QMFFs) provide a potential solution to both of these limitations. In this review, we address recent advances in the development of QMFFs for condensed phase simulations. In particular, we examine the development of QMFF models using both approximate and ab initio density-functional models, the treatment of short-ranged non-bonded and long-ranged electrostatic interactions, and stability issues in molecular dynamics calculations. Example calculations are provided for crystalline systems, liquid water, and ionic liquids. We conclude with a perspective for emerging challenges and future research directions.