Improving Solvation Energy Predictions Using The SMD Solvation Method and Semiempirical Electronic Structure Methods

The PM6 implementation in the GAMESS program is extended to elements requiring d-integrals and interfaced with the conducter-like polarized continuum model (C-PCM) of solvation, in- cluding gradients. The accuracy of aqueous solvation energies computed using AM1, PM3, PM6, and DFTB and the SMD continuum solvation model is tested using the MNSOL data set. The errors in SMD solvation energies predicted using NDDO-based methods is considerably larger than when using DFT and HF, with RMSE values of 3.4-5.9 (neutrals) and 6-15 kcal/mol (ions) compared to 2.4 and ca 5 kcal/mol for HF/6-31G(d). For the NDDO-based methods the errors are especially large for cations and considerably higher than the corresponding COSMO results, which suggests that the NDDO/SMD results can be improved by re-parameterizing the SMD parameters focusing on ions. We found the best results are obtained by changing only the radii for hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur and this leads to RMSE values for PM3 (neutrals: 2.8/ions: ca 5 kcal/mol), PM6 (4.7/ca 5 kcal/mol), and DFTB (3.9/ca 5 kcal/mol) that are more comparable to HF/6-31G(d) (2.4/ca 5 kcal/mol). Though the radii are optimized to reproduce aqueous solvation energies, they also lead more accurate predictions for other polar solvents such as DMSO, acetonitrile, and methanol, while the improvements for non-polar solvents are negligible.