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Density-Functional Theory with Dispersion-Correcting Potentials for Methane: Bridging the Efficiency and Accuracy Gap between High-Level Wave Function and Classical Molecular Mechanics Methods

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posted on 13.08.2013, 00:00 by Edmanuel Torres, Gino A. DiLabio
Large clusters of noncovalently bonded molecules can only be efficiently modeled by classical mechanics simulations. One prominent challenge associated with this approach is obtaining force-field parameters that accurately describe noncovalent interactions. High-level correlated wave function methods, such as CCSD­(T), are capable of correctly predicting noncovalent interactions, and are widely used to produce reference data. However, high-level correlated methods are generally too computationally costly to generate the critical reference data required for good force-field parameter development. In this work we present an approach to generate Lennard-Jones force-field parameters to accurately account for noncovalent interactions. We propose the use of a computational step that is intermediate to CCSD­(T) and classical molecular mechanics, that can bridge the accuracy and computational efficiency gap between them, and demonstrate the efficacy of our approach with methane clusters. On the basis of CCSD­(T)-level binding energy data for a small set of methane clusters, we develop methane-specific, atom-centered, dispersion-correcting potentials (DCPs) for use with the PBE0 density-functional and 6-31+G­(d,p) basis sets. We then use the PBE0-DCP approach to compute a detailed map of the interaction forces associated with the removal of a single methane molecule from a cluster of eight methane molecules and use this map to optimize the Lennard-Jones parameters for methane. The quality of the binding energies obtained by the Lennard-Jones parameters we obtained is assessed on a set of methane clusters containing from 2 to 40 molecules. Our Lennard-Jones parameters, used in combination with the intramolecular parameters of the CHARMM force field, are found to closely reproduce the results of our dispersion-corrected density-functional calculations. The approach outlined can be used to develop Lennard-Jones parameters for any kind of molecular system.