Quantifying Fluctuations of Average Solvent Environments for Embedding Calculations

Cristina E. González-Espinoza, Christopher A. Rumble, Daniel Borgis, Tomasz A. Wesolowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The viability and effectiveness of replacing an ensemble of embedded solute calculations by a single calculation using an average description of the solvent environment are evaluated. This work explores the fluctuations of the average description of the system obtained in two ways: from calculations on an ensemble of geometries and from an average environment constructed from the same ensemble. To this end, classical molecular dynamics simulations of a rigid acetone solute in SPCE water are performed in order to generate an ensemble of solvent environments. From this ensemble of solvent configurations, a number of different approaches for constructing an average solvent environment are employed. We perform a thorough numerical analysis of the fluctuations of the electrostatic potential experienced by the solute, as well as the resulting fluctuations of the solute's electronic density, measured through its dipole moment and fitted atomic point charges. At the same time, we inspect the accuracy of the methods used to construct average environments. Finally, the proposed method for generating the embedding potential from an average environment density is applied to estimate the solvatochromic shift of the first excitation of acetone. In order to account for quantum confinement effects, which may be important in certain cases, the fluctuations in the shift due to the interaction with the solvent are evaluated using frozen-density-embedding theory. Our results demonstrate that, for normally distributed environments, the constructed average environment is a reasonably good representation of a fluctuating molecular solvent environment. We then provide guidance for future comparisons between these theoretical treatments of solute/solvent systems to experimental measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1072-1088
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Chemical Theory and Computation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 8 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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