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Characterization of a dynamic string method for the construction of transition pathways in molecular reactions

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Johnson, M. E., & Hummer, G. (2012). Characterization of a dynamic string method for the construction of transition pathways in molecular reactions. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 116(29), 8573-8583. doi:10.1021/jp212611k.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-11F1-5
Abstract
We explore the theoretical foundation of different string methods used to find dominant reaction pathways in high-dimensional configuration spaces. Pathways are assessed by the amount of reactive flux they carry and by their orientation relative to the committor function. By examining the effects of transforming between different collective coordinates that span the same underlying space, we unmask artificial coordinate dependences in strings optimized to follow the free energy gradient. In contrast, strings optimized to follow the drift vector produce reaction pathways that are significantly less sensitive to reparameterizations of the collective coordinates. The differences in these paths arise because the drift vector depends on both the free energy gradient and the diffusion tensor of the coarse collective variables. Anisotropy and position dependence of diffusion tensors arise commonly in spaces of coarse variables, whose generally slow dynamics are obtained by nonlinear projections of the strongly coupled atomic motions. We show here that transition paths constructed to account for dynamics by following the drift vector will (to a close approximation) carry the maximum reactive flux both in systems with isotropic position dependent diffusion and in systems with constant but anisotropic diffusion. We derive a simple method for calculating the committor function along paths that follow the reactive flux. Lastly, we provide guidance for the practical implementation of the dynamic string method.