Modeling the structure and absorption spectra of stilbazolium merocyanine in polar and nonpolar solvents using hybrid QM/MM techniques.

Research paper by N Arul NA Murugan, Jacob J Kongsted, Zilvinas Z Rinkevicius, Kestutis K Aidas, Hans H Ågren

Indexed on: 12 Oct '10Published on: 12 Oct '10Published in: Journal of Physical Chemistry B


We have performed Car-Parrinello mixed quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (CP-QM/MM) calculations for stilbazolium merocyanine (SM) in polar and nonpolar solvents in order to explore the role of solute molecular geometry, solvation shell structure, and different interaction mechanisms on the absorption spectra and its dependence on solvent polarity. On the basis of the average bond length values and group charge distributions, we find that the SM molecule remains in a neutral quinonoid form in chloroform (a nonpolar solvent) while it transforms to a charge-separated benzenoid form in water (a polar solvent). Based on a quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical response technique, with different MM descriptions for the water environment, absorption spectra were obtained as averages over configurations derived from the CP-QM/MM simulations. We show that for SM in water the solute polarization plays a major role in predictions of the λ(max) and solvatochromic shift and that once this effect is included the contributions from solvent polarization and intermolecular charge transfer become less important. For SM in chloroform and water solvents, we have also performed absorption spectra calculations using a polarizable continuum model in order to address its relative performance compared to the QM/MM response technique. In the case of SM in water, our study supports the notion that, in order to predict accurate absorption spectra and solvatochromic shifts, it is important to use a discrete description of the solvent when it, as in water, is involved in site-specific interaction with the solute molecule. The technique is thus shown to outperform the more conventional polarizable continuum model in predicting the solvatochromic shift.