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Molecular Modeling of Water Interfaces: From Molecular Spectroscopy to Thermodynamics B

Nagata, Yuki, Ohto, Tatsuhiko, Backus, Ellen H. G., Bonn, Mischa
The Journal of physical chemistry 2016 v.120 no.16 pp. 3785-3796
biochemistry, cell membranes, electrochemistry, environmental science, evaporation, geochemistry, molecular dynamics, molecular models, permeability, solubility, spectroscopy, surface tension, thermodynamics, van der Waals forces
Understanding aqueous interfaces at the molecular level is not only fundamentally important, but also highly relevant for a variety of disciplines. For instance, electrode–water interfaces are relevant for electrochemistry, as are mineral–water interfaces for geochemistry and air–water interfaces for environmental chemistry; water–lipid interfaces constitute the boundaries of the cell membrane, and are thus relevant for biochemistry. One of the major challenges in these fields is to link macroscopic properties such as interfacial reactivity, solubility, and permeability as well as macroscopic thermodynamic and spectroscopic observables to the structure, structural changes, and dynamics of molecules at these interfaces. Simulations, by themselves, or in conjunction with appropriate experiments, can provide such molecular-level insights into aqueous interfaces. In this contribution, we review the current state-of-the-art of three levels of molecular dynamics (MD) simulation: ab initio, force field, and coarse-grained. We discuss the advantages, the potential, and the limitations of each approach for studying aqueous interfaces, by assessing computations of the sum-frequency generation spectra and surface tension. The comparison of experimental and simulation data provides information on the challenges of future MD simulations, such as improving the force field models and the van der Waals corrections in ab initio MD simulations. Once good agreement between experimental observables and simulation can be established, the simulation can be used to provide insights into the processes at a level of detail that is generally inaccessible to experiments. As an example we discuss the mechanism of the evaporation of water. We finish by presenting an outlook outlining four future challenges for molecular dynamics simulations of aqueous interfacial systems.