Multiscale simulation of the ground and photo-induced charge-separated states of a molecular triad in polar organic solvent: Exploring the conformations, fluctuations, and free energy landscapes

D. Balamurugan, Adelia J.A. Aquino, Francis De Dios, Lionel Flores, Hans Lischka, Margaret S. Cheung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


The approach of a multiscale simulation that combines quantum chemical calculations, classical molecular dynamics simulations, and statistical physics to integrate the information of the electronic states of a conformationally complex molecule into its structural distribution over an ensemble was performed to understand the influence of a polar organic solvent on the structural stability of carotene-porphyrin-fullerene molecular triad in both the ground and the photoinduced charge-separated excited states. The excited states of the triad were computed with the ab initio quantum chemical calculations using the algebraic diagrammatic construction through the second order correction (ADC(2)) method and the time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT). The replica exchange molecular dynamics was used for the enhanced sampling of the ensemble in order to explore the phase space of the ground state and the photoinduced charge-separated excited state of triad in explicit tetrahydrofuran (THF) solvent. An importance sampling was strategically employed to bridge the gap between the two computational methods that aim to explore distinct realms of dynamics. We analyzed the free energy landscape, the structural fluctuations, the solvent arrangements, the static dielectric constant, and the interactions between the triad and the solvent molecules. The analysis of the free energy landscape of the triad indicates that the charge-separated excited state of the triad is thermodynamically stable in a linearly extended geometry, while the ground-state triad explores several extended and bent conformations that are populated in the local free energy minima separated by low free energy barriers at an order of thermal fluctuation (kBT). The stabilization of a linearly extended structure of the charge-separated excited state triad is predominantly due to the solvation interactions (van der Waals and electrostatic interactions) between the triad and the THF molecules as well as the interactions within the THF molecules. Differences in the charge distribution on a molecular triad induce slight changes in the dielectric property of THF near the triad. Our study suggests that by measuring the differences in a dielectric response of solvent near the triad, it is possible to provide insight into the population of the charge-separated electronic state of the triad relative to that of the ground state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12065-12075
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 10 2013


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