Re: Question about Electrostatics in Molecular Mechanics
> Dear Netters,
> Please help settle a small controversy. For a particular molecular
> mechanics calculation, I derived partial atomic charges from bond
> dipole moment measurements made in nonpolar solvent. I then ran
> molecular mechanics calculations using an in vacuo dielectric constant
> of 1.00. A colleague argues that I must use a dielectric constant
> appropriate to the nonpolar solvent from which the charges were
> derived (e.g., 2-3). It seems to me that the charges already embody
> the effect of the nonpolar solvent's dielectric constant, and so using
> the in vacuo value of 1.00 is okay and perhaps preferred. Stated another
> way, it seems to me that using these charges AND the dielectric of 2-3
> would count the effect of the nonpolar solvent twice.
> Any opinions on this matter are appreciated.
> Thanks ...
> Bill Welsh
> Dept. of Chemistry
> Univ. of Missouri-St. Louis
It is still controversial how to choose the dielectric constant in molecular
mechanics calculation. Some choose 1, some choose larger than 1, and some choose
distance dependent (e.g. 1/r) parameter.
The current point charges were calculated under the condition without
of external electric field. When two charges interact with each other, not only
effective point charges move accordingly to have the dielectric effect, but also
eletrons redistribute themselves to have the so-called electronic
So if you choose a dielectric constant of 1.00, you can model dielectric effect
ion (nuclei), but you do not account completely for the polarizability of
That's why many people attempt to use a dielectric constant large than one. It
suggested 2.0 for proteins and 4.0 for membranes. But since there is no really
model to include the polarizability of electron, it is still acceptable to use a
dielectric constant of 1.00. It seems that dynamics of biopolymers is not very
sensitive to electrostatics in many cases. For example, many simulations used an
distance cutoff for Coulomb forces, which loses a significant portion of
electrostatics, but good results were still obtained anyway.
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