Beyond Continuum Solvent Models in Computational Homogeneous Catalysis

Gantulga Norjmaa, Gregori Ujaque*, Agustí Lledós

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


In homogeneous catalysis solvent is an inherent part of the catalytic system. As such, it must be considered in the computational modeling. The most common approach to include solvent effects in quantum mechanical calculations is by means of continuum solvent models. When they are properly used, average solvent effects are efficiently captured, mainly those related with solvent polarity. However, neglecting atomistic description of solvent molecules has its limitations, and continuum solvent models all alone cannot be applied to whatever situation. In many cases, inclusion of explicit solvent molecules in the quantum mechanical description of the system is mandatory. The purpose of this article is to highlight through selected examples what are the reasons that urge to go beyond the continuum models to the employment of micro-solvated (cluster-continuum) of fully explicit solvent models, in this way setting the limits of continuum solvent models in computational homogeneous catalysis. These examples showcase that inclusion of solvent molecules in the calculation not only can improve the description of already known mechanisms but can yield new mechanistic views of a reaction. With the aim of systematizing the use of explicit solvent models, after discussing the success and limitations of continuum solvent models, issues related with solvent coordination and solvent dynamics, solvent effects in reactions involving small, charged species, as well as reactions in protic solvents and the role of solvent as reagent itself are successively considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118
Number of pages140
JournalTopics in Catalysis
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Continuum solvent models
  • DFT calculations
  • Explicit solvent
  • Micro-solvation
  • Reaction mechanisms
  • Solvent effects
  • Solvent models


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