We analyze light-driven overcrowded alkene-based molecular motors, an intriguing class of small molecules that have the potential to generate MHz-scale rotation rates. The full rotation process is simulated at multiple scales by combining quantum surface-hopping molecular dynamics (MD) simulations for the photoisomerization step with classical MD simulations for the thermal helix inversion step. A Markov state analysis resolves conformational substates, their interconversion kinetics, and their roles in the motor’s rotation process. Furthermore, motor performance metrics, including rotation rate and maximal power output, are computed to validate computations against experimental measurements and to inform future designs. Lastly, we find that to correctly model these motors, the force field must be optimized by fitting selected parameters to reference quantum mechanical energy surfaces. Overall, our simulations yield encouraging agreement with experimental observables such as rotation rates, and provide mechanistic insights that may help future designs.
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