Convergence of Computed Aqueous Absorption Spectra with Explicit Quantum Mechanical Solvent
Milanese, J. M., Provorse, M. R., Alameda, E., & Isborn, C. M. (2017). Convergence of Computed Aqueous Absorption Spectra with Explicit Quantum Mechanical Solvent. Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, 13, 2159-2171.
For reliable condensed phase simulations, an accurate model that includes both short- and long-range interactions is required. Short- and long-range interactions can be particularly strong in aqueous solution, where hydrogen-bonding may play a large role at short range and polarization may play a large role at long range. Although short-range solute–solvent interactions such as charge transfer, hydrogen bonding, and solute–solvent polarization can be taken into account with a quantum mechanical (QM) treatment of the solvent, it is unclear how much QM solvent is necessary to accurately model interactions with different solutes. In this work, we investigate the effect of explicit QM solvent on absorption spectra computed for a series of solutes with decreasing polarity. By adjusting the boundary between QM and classical molecular mechanical solvent to include up to 400 QM water molecules, convergence of the calculated absorption spectra with respect to the size of the QM region is achieved. We find that the rate of convergence does not correlate with solute polarity when excitation energies are calculated using time-dependent density functional theory with a range-separated hybrid functional, but it does correlate with solute polarity when using configuration interaction singles. We also find that larger basis sets converge the computed spectrum with fewer QM solvent molecules. To optimize the computational cost with respect to convergence, we test a mixed basis set with more basis functions for atoms of the chromophore and the solvent molecules that are nearest to it and fewer basis functions for the atoms of the remaining solvent molecules in the QM region. Our results show that using a mixed basis set is a potentially effective way to significantly lower the computational cost while reproducing the results computed with larger basis sets.