A Paramedic Treatment for Modeling Explicitly Solvated Chemical Reaction Mechanisms

28 March 2018, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


We report a static quantum chemistry modeling treatment to study how solvent molecules affect chemical reaction mechanisms without dynamics simulations. This modeling scheme uses a global optimization procedure to identify low energy intermediate states with different numbers of explicit solvent molecules and then the growing string method to locate sequential transition states along a reaction pathway. Testing this approach on the acid-catalyzed Morita-Baylis-Hillman (MBH) reaction in methanol, we found a reaction mechanism that is consistent with both recent experiments and computationally intensive dynamics simulations with explicit solvation. In doing so, we explain unphysical pitfalls that obfuscate computational modeling that uses microsolvated reaction intermediates. This new paramedic approach can promisingly capture essential physical chemistry of the complicated and multistep MBH reaction mechanism, and the energy profiles found with this model appear reasonably insensitive to the level of theory used for energy calculations. Thus, it should be a useful and computationally cost-effective approach for modeling solvent mediated reaction mechanisms when dynamics simulations are not possible.


Morita-Baylis-Hillman reaction
umbrella sampling
global optimization
growing string method
transition states
cluster continuum modeling
smooth overlap of atomic positions

Supplementary materials

chemrxiv si copy


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.