Fast exploration of an optimal path on the multidimensional free energy surfaceReport as inadecuate

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In a reaction, determination of an optimal path with a high reaction rate or a low free energy barrier is important for the study of the reaction mechanism. This is a complicated problem that involves lots of degrees of freedom. For simple models, one can build an initial path in the collective variable space by the interpolation method first and then update the whole path constantly in the optimization. However, such interpolation method could be risky in the high dimensional space for large molecules. On the path, steric clashes between neighboring atoms could cause extremely high energy barriers and thus fail the optimization. Moreover, performing simulations for all the snapshots on the path is also time-consuming. In this paper, we build and optimize the path by a growing method on the free energy surface. The method grows a path from the reactant and extends its length in the collective variable space step by step. The growing direction is determined by both the free energy gradient at the end of the path and the direction vector pointing at the product. With fewer snapshots on the path, this strategy can let the path avoid the high energy states in the growing process and save the precious simulation time at each iteration step. Applications show that the presented method is efficient enough to produce optimal paths on either the two-dimensional or the twelve-dimensional free energy surfaces of different small molecules.

Author: Changjun Chen



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