Dielectric continuum solvation models are widely used because they are a computationally efficacious way to simulate equilibrium properties of solutes. With advances that allow for molecular-shaped cavities, they have reached a high level of accuracy, in particular for neutral solutes. However, benchmark tests show that existing schemes for defining cavities are unable to consistently predict accurately the effects of solvation on ions, especially anions. This work involves the further development of a protocol put forth earlier for defining the cavities of aqueous solutes, with resulting advances that are most striking for anions. Molecular cavities are defined as interlocked spheres around atoms or groups of atoms in the solute, but the sphere radii are determined by simple empirically based expressions involving the effective atomic charges of the solute atoms (derived from molecular electrostatic potential) and base radii. Both of these terms are optimized for the different types of atoms or functional groups in a training set of neutral and charged solutes. Parameters in these expressions for radii were fitted by minimizing residuals between calculated and measured standard free energies of solvation (ΔG*), weighted by the uncertainty in the measured value. The calculations were performed using density functional theory with the B3LYP functional and the 6-311+G** basis set and the COnductor-like Screening MOdel (COSMO). The optimized radii definitions reproduce ΔG s* of neutral solutes and singly charged ions in the training set to within experimental uncertainty and, more importantly, accurately predict ΔGs* of compounds outside the training set, in particular anions (J. Phys. Chem. A 2003, 107, 5778). Inherent to this approach, the cavity definitions reflect the strength of specific solute-water interactions. We surmise that this feature underlies the success of the model, referred to as the CD-COSMO model for Charge-Dependent (also Camaioni-Dupuis) COSMO model. These findings offer encouragement that we can keep extending this scheme to other functional groups and obtain better accuracy in using continuum solvation models to predict equilibrium properties of aqueous ionic solutes. The approach is illustrated for a number of test cases, including the determination of acidities of an amine base, a study of the tautomerization equilibrium of a zwitterionic molecule (glycine), and calculating solvation energies of transition states toward a full characterization of reaction pathways in aqueous phase, here in SN2 exchange reactions. The calculated reaction barriers in aqueous solution are in excellent agreement with experimental values.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry