Solvent effect on the absorption spectra of coumarin 120 in water: A combined quantum mechanical and molecular mechanical study

Tetsuya Sakata, Yukio Kawashima, Haruyuki Nakano
Journal of Chemical Physics 2011 January 7, 134 (1): 014501
The solvent effect on the absorption spectra of coumarin 120 (C120) in water was studied utilizing the combined quantum mechanical∕molecular mechanical (QM∕MM) method. In molecular dynamics (MD) simulation, a new sampling scheme was introduced to provide enough samples for both solute and solvent molecules to obtain the average physical properties of the molecules in solution. We sampled the structure of the solute and solvent molecules separately. First, we executed a QM∕MM MD simulation, where we sampled the solute molecule in solution. Next, we chose random solute structures from this simulation and performed classical MD simulation for each chosen solute structure with its geometry fixed. This new scheme allowed us to sample the solute molecule quantum mechanically and sample many solvent structures classically. Excitation energy calculations using the selected samples were carried out by the generalized multiconfigurational perturbation theory. We succeeded in constructing the absorption spectra and realizing the red shift of the absorption spectra found in polar solvents. To understand the motion of C120 in water, we carried out principal component analysis and found that the motion of the methyl group made the largest contribution and the motion of the amino group the second largest. The solvent effect on the absorption spectrum was studied by decomposing it in two components: the effect from the distortion of the solute molecule and the field effect from the solvent molecules. The solvent effect from the solvent molecules shows large contribution to the solvent shift of the peak of the absorption spectrum, while the solvent effect from the solute molecule shows no contribution. The solvent effect from the solute molecule mainly contributes to the broadening of the absorption spectrum. In the solvent effect, the variation in C-C bond length has the largest contribution on the absorption spectrum from the solute molecule. For the solvent effect on the absorption spectrum from the solvent molecules, the solvent structure around the amino group of C120 plays the key role.

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