Analytical calculation of the solvent‐accessible surface area and its nuclear gradients by stereographic projection: A general approach for molecules, polymers, nanotubes, helices, and surfaces

DOI: 10.1002/jcc.26191

Journal of Computational Chemistry

In this article, we explore an alternative to the analytical Gauss–Bonnet approach for computing the solvent‐accessible surface area (SASA) and its nuclear gradients. These two key quantities are required to evaluate the nonelectrostatic contribution to the solvation energy and its nuclear gradients in implicit solvation models. We extend a previously proposed analytical approach for finite systems based on the stereographic projection technique to infinite periodic systems such as polymers, nanotubes, helices, or surfaces and detail its implementation in the Crystal code. We provide the full derivation of the SASA nuclear gradients, and introduce an iterative perturbation scheme of the atomic coordinates to stabilize the gradients calculation for certain difficult symmetric systems. An excellent agreement of computed SASA with reference analytical values is found for finite systems, while the SASA size‐extensivity is verified for infinite periodic systems. In addition, correctness of the analytical gradients is confirmed by the excellent agreement obtained with numerical gradients and by the translational invariance achieved, both for finite and infinite periodic systems. Overall therefore, the stereographic projection approach appears as a general, simple, and efficient technique to compute the key quantities required for the calculation of the nonelectrostatic contribution to the solvation energy and its nuclear gradients in implicit solvation models applicable to both finite and infinite periodic systems.

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