Electronic continuum model for molecular dynamics simulations
A simple model for accounting for electronic polarization in molecular dynamics (MD) simulations is discussed. In this model, called molecular dynamics electronic continuum (MDEC), the electronic polarization is treated explicitly in terms of the electronic continuum (EC) approximation, while the nuclear dynamics is described with a fixed-charge force field. In such a force-field all atomic charges are scaled to reflect the screening effect by the electronic continuum. The MDEC model is rather similar but not equivalent to the standard nonpolarizable force-fields; the differences are discussed. Of our particular interest is the calculation of the electrostatic part of solvation energy using standard nonpolarizable MD simulations. In a low-dielectric environment, such as protein, the standard MD approach produces qualitatively wrong results. The difficulty is in mistreatment of the electronic polarizability. We show how the results can be much improved using the MDEC approach. We also show how the dielectric constant of the medium obtained in a MD simulation with nonpolarizable force-field is related to the static (total) dielectric constant, which includes both the nuclear and electronic relaxation effects. Using the MDEC model, we discuss recent calculations of dielectric constants of alcohols and alkanes, and show that the MDEC results are comparable with those obtained with the polarizable Drude oscillator model. The applicability of the method to calculations of dielectric properties of proteins is discussed.