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     Christopher N. Rowley, Tom K. Woo


     Generation of initial trajectories for transition path sampling of chemical reactions with ab initio molecular dynamics.

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     Journal of Chemical Physics

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     Transition path sampling is an innovative method for focusing a molecular dynamics simulation on a reactive event. Although transition path sampling methods can generate an ensemble of reactive trajectories, an initial reactive trajectory must be generated by some other means. In this paper, the authors have evaluated three methods for generating initial reactive trajectories for transition path sampling with ab initio molecular dynamics. The authors have tested each of these methods on a set of chemical reactions involving the breaking and making of covalent bonds: the 1,2-hydrogen elimination in the borane-ammonia adduct, a tautomerization, and the Claisen rearrangement. The first method is to initiate trajectories from the potential energy transition state, which was effective for all reactions in the test set. Assigning atomic velocities found using normal mode analysis greatly improved the success of this method. The second method uses a high temperature molecular dynamics simulation and then iteratively reduces the total energy of the simulation until a low temperature reactive trajectory is found. This was effective in generating a low temperature trajectory from an initial trajectory run at 3000 K of the tautomerization reaction, although it failed for the other two. The third uses an orbital based bias potential to find a reactive trajectory and uses this trajectory to initiate an unbiased trajectory. The authors found that a highest occupied molecular orbital–lowest unoccupied molecular orbital bias could be used to find a reactive trajectory for the Claisen rearrangement, although it failed for the other two reactions. These techniques will help make it practical to use transition path sampling to study chemical reaction mechanisms that involve bond breaking and forming.
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