An explicit quantum chemical method for modeling large solvation shells applied to aminocoumarin C151

J. Neugebauer, C.R. Jacob, T.A. Wesolowski, E.J. Baerends

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The absorption spectra of aminocoumarin C151 in water and n-hexane solution are investigated by an explicit quantum chemical solvent model. We improved the efficiency of the frozen-density embedding scheme, as used in a former study on solvatochromism (J. Chem. Phys. 2005, 122, 094115) to describe very large solvent shells. The computer time used in this new implementation scales approximately linearly (with a low prefactor) with the number of solvent molecules. We test the ability of the frozen-density embedding to describe specific solvent effects due to hydrogen bonding for a small example system, as well as the convergence of the excitation energy with the number of solvent molecules considered in the solvation shell. Calculations with up to 500 water molecules (1500 atoms) in the solvent system are carried out. The absorption spectra are studied for C151 in aqueous or n-hexane solution for direct comparison with experimental data. To obtain snapshots of the dye molecule in solution, for which subsequent excitation energies are calculated, we use a classical molecular dynamics (MD) simulation with a force field adapted to first-principles calculations. In the calculation of solvatochromic shifts between solvents of different polarity, the vertical excitation energy obtained at the equilibrium structure of the isolated chromophore is sometimes taken as a guess for the excitation energy in a nonpolar solvent. Our results show that this is, in general, not an appropriate assumption. This is mainly due to the fact that the solute dynamics is neglected. The experimental shift between n-hexane and water as solvents is qualitatively reproduced, even by the simplest embedding approximation, and the results can be improved by a partial polarization of the frozen density. It is shown that the shift is mainly due to the electronic effect of the water molecules, and the structural effects are similar in n-hexane and water. By including water molecules, which might be directly involved in the excitation, in the embedded region, an agreement with experimental values within 0.05 eV is achieved. © 2005 American Chemical Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7805-14
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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