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Journal Article

Effects of electric fields on proton transport through water chains

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Hassan, S. A., Hummer, G., & Lee, Y.-S. (2006). Effects of electric fields on proton transport through water chains. The Journal of Chemical Physics, 124(20): 204510. doi:10.1063/1.2198820.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-98AD-A
Molecular dynamics simulations on quantum energy surfaces are carried out to study the effects of perturbing electric fields on proton transport (PT) in protonated water chains. As an idealized model of a hydrophobic cavity in the interior of a protein the water molecules are confined into a carbon nanotube (CNT). The water chain connects a hydrated hydronium ion (H3O+) at one end of the CNT and an imidazole molecule at the other end. Without perturbing electric fields PT from the hydronium proton donor to the imidazole acceptor occurs on a picosecond time scale. External perturbations to PT are created by electric fields of varying intensities, normal to the CNT axis, generated by a neutral pair of charges on the nanotube wall. For fields above approximately 0.5 VA, the hydronium ion is effectively trapped at the CNT center, and PT blocked. Fields of comparable strength are generated inside proteins by nearby polar/charged amino acids. At lower fields the system displays a rich dynamic behavior, where the excess charge shuttles back and forth along the water chain before reaching the acceptor group on the picosecond time scale. The effects of the perturbing field on the proton movement are analyzed in terms of structural and dynamic properties of the water chain. The implications of these observations on PT in biomolecular systems and its control by external perturbing fields are discussed.