Structure and dynamics of aqueous solutions from PBE-based first-principles molecular dynamics simulations

Tuan Anh Pham, Tadashi Ogitsu, Edmond Y Lau, Eric Schwegler

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30 Scopus citations


Establishing an accurate and predictive computational framework for the description of complex aqueous solutions is an ongoing challenge for density functional theory based first-principles molecular dynamics (FPMD) simulations. In this context, important advances have been made in recent years, including the development of sophisticated exchange-correlation functionals. On the other hand, simulations based on simple generalized gradient approximation (GGA) functionals remain an active field, particularly in the study of complex aqueous solutions due to a good balance between the accuracy, computational expense, and the applicability to a wide range of systems. Such simulations are often performed at elevated temperatures to artificially "correct" for GGA inaccuracies in the description of liquid water; however, a detailed understanding of how the choice of temperature affects the structure and dynamics of other components, such as solvated ions, is largely unknown. To address this question, we carried out a series of FPMD simulations at temperatures ranging from 300 to 460 K for liquid water and three representative aqueous solutions containing solvated Na+, K+, and Cl- ions. We show that simulations at 390-400 K with the Perdew-Burke-Ernzerhof (PBE) exchange-correlation functional yield water structure and dynamics in good agreement with experiments at ambient conditions. Simultaneously, this computational setup provides ion solvation structures and ion effects on water dynamics consistent with experiments. Our results suggest that an elevated temperature around 390-400 K with the PBE functional can be used for the description of structural and dynamical properties of liquid water and complex solutions with solvated ions at ambient conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number154501
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number15
StatePublished - Oct 21 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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