Perspective: Ab initio force field methods derived from quantum mechanics

Gordon, Mark
Guidez, Emilie B.
Bertoni, Colleen
Gordon, Mark
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Ames Laboratory
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ChemistryAmes Laboratory
It is often desirable to accurately and efficiently model the behavior of large molecular systems in the condensed phase (thousands to tens of thousands of atoms) over long time scales (from nanoseconds to milliseconds). In these cases, ab initio methods are difficult due to the increasing computational cost with the number of electrons. A more computationally attractive alternative is to perform the simulations at the atomic level using a parameterized function to model the electronic energy. Many empirical force fields have been developed for this purpose. However, the functions that are used to model interatomic and intermolecular interactions contain many fitted parameters obtained from selected model systems, and such classical force fields cannot properly simulate important electronic effects. Furthermore, while such force fields are computationally affordable, they are not reliable when applied to systems that differ significantly from those used in their parameterization. They also cannot provide the information necessary to analyze the interactions that occur in the system, making the systematic improvement of the functional forms that are used difficult. Ab initio force field methods aim to combine the merits of both types of methods. The ideal ab initio force fields are built on first principles and require no fitted parameters. Ab initio force field methods surveyed in this perspective are based on fragmentation approaches and intermolecular perturbation theory. This perspective summarizes their theoretical foundation, key components in their formulation, and discusses key aspects of these methods such as accuracy and formal computational cost. The ab initio force fields considered here were developed for different targets, and this perspective also aims to provide a balanced presentation of their strengths and shortcomings. Finally, this perspective suggests some future directions for this actively developing area.
This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and AIP Publishing. This article appeared in Xu, Peng, Emilie B. Guidez, Colleen Bertoni, and Mark S. Gordon. "Perspective: Ab initio force field methods derived from quantum mechanics." The Journal of Chemical Physics 148, no. 9 (2018): 090901, and may be found at DOI: 10.1063/1.5009551. Copyright 2018 Author(s). Posted with permission.