Modeling nuclear quantum effects on long-range electrostatics in nonuniform fluids

RC Remsing, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 159, 234101 (2023).

DOI: 10.1063/5.0175808

Nuclear quantum effects play critical roles in a variety of molecular processes, especially in systems that contain hydrogen and other light nuclei, such as water. For water under ambient conditions, nuclear quantum effects are often interpreted as local effects resulting from a smearing of the hydrogen atom distribution. However, the orientational structure of water at interfaces determines long-range effects, such as electrostatics, through the O-H bond ordering that is impacted by nuclear quantum effects. In this work, I examine nuclear quantum effects on long-range electrostatics of water confined between hydrophobic walls using path integral simulations. To do so, I combine concepts from local molecular field theory with path integral methods at varying levels of approximation to develop efficient and physically intuitive approaches for describing long-range electrostatics in nonuniform quantum systems. Using these approaches, I show that quantum water requires larger electrostatic forces to achieve interfacial screening than the corresponding classical system. This work highlights the subtleties of electrostatics in nonuniform classical and quantum molecular systems, and the methods presented here are expected to be of use to efficiently model nuclear quantum effects in large systems.

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