Conical intersections in solution: formulation, algorithm, and implementation with combined quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics method.
The significance of conical intersections in photophysics, photochemistry, and photodissociation of polyatomic molecules in gas phase has been demonstrated by numerous experimental and theoretical studies. Optimization of conical intersections of small- and medium-size molecules in gas phase has currently become a routine optimization process, as it has been implemented in many electronic structure packages. However, optimization of conical intersections of small- and medium-size molecules in solution or macromolecules remains inefficient, even poorly defined, due to large number of degrees of freedom and costly evaluations of gradient difference and nonadiabatic coupling vectors. In this work, based on the sequential quantum mechanics and molecular mechanics (QM/MM) and QM/MM-minimum free energy path methods, we have designed two conical intersection optimization methods for small- and medium-size molecules in solution or macromolecules. The first one is sequential QM conical intersection optimization and MM minimization for potential energy surfaces; the second one is sequential QM conical intersection optimization and MM sampling for potential of mean force surfaces, i.e., free energy surfaces. In such methods, the region where electronic structures change remarkably is placed into the QM subsystem, while the rest of the system is placed into the MM subsystem; thus, dimensionalities of gradient difference and nonadiabatic coupling vectors are decreased due to the relatively small QM subsystem. Furthermore, in comparison with the concurrent optimization scheme, sequential QM conical intersection optimization and MM minimization or sampling reduce the number of evaluations of gradient difference and nonadiabatic coupling vectors because these vectors need to be calculated only when the QM subsystem moves, independent of the MM minimization or sampling. Taken together, costly evaluations of gradient difference and nonadiabatic coupling vectors in solution or macromolecules can be reduced significantly. Test optimizations of conical intersections of cyclopropanone and acetaldehyde in aqueous solution have been carried out successfully.
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