Exploring Ion Polarizabilities and Their Correlation with Van der Waals Radii: A Theoretical Investigation

23 May 2024, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Polarizability (⍺) is a fundamental property which measures the tendency of the electron cloud of an atom, ion, or molecule to be distorted by electric field. Polarizability contributes to important physical properties such as molecular interactions or dielectric constants; thus, it is essential to have accurate polarizabilities in molecular simulations. However, it remains a challenge to develop polarizable force fields for ions in computational chemistry. In particular, a comprehensive set of polarizabilities for ions has not been derived. Herein, we derived a systematic set of polarizabilities for atoms and ions across the periodic table based on high-level quantum mechanics calculations. These values have excellent agreement with experimental data. Furthermore, we examined the relationship between the obtained polarizabilities and the van der Waals radii (RVDW) that we previously determined (J. Chem. Theory Comput., 2023, 19, 2064). Two relationships, R_VDW∝α^(1/7) and R_VDW∝α^(1/3), proposed in previous studies were examined in the present work. Our results indicated the former relationship, which was derived based on the quantum harmonic oscillator model, prevails for atoms and cations, but neither relationship provides a satisfactory fit for anions. This is consistent with the tight-binding nature of the electrons in atoms and cations, while it is more challenging to quantify the polarizabilities of anions because of their more dispersed electron clouds. Moreover, we compared different approaches to determine the dispersion coefficients, including the London, Slater-Kirkwood, SAPT, and TD-DFT methods, along with the approach based on van der Waals constants. Our results indicated that although different approaches predict deviated magnitudes for the dispersion coefficients, their predictions are highly correlated, implying that each of these approaches can be used to evaluate dispersion interactions after proper scaling. This study has significant implications for advancing the development of next-generation ion models and polarizable force fields.


Van der Waals radii
Quantum Drude Oscillator
Quantum Harmonic Oscillator

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information for "Exploring Ion Polarizabilities and Their Correlation with Van der Waals Radii: A Theoretical Investigation"
Benchmark results of different levels of theory; calibrated polarizabilities of various atoms and ions; analyses for the relationship between van der Waals radii and polarizability; experimental data used to calculate the dispersion coefficients; fitting of the dispersion coefficients based on SAPT calculations; correlation analyses between the dispersion coefficients obtained by different approaches.


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