First-Principles Molecular Dynamics Studies of Organometallic Complexes and Homogeneous Catalytic Processes

Pietro Vidossich, Agustí Lledós, Gregori Ujaque

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57 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 American Chemical Society. Computational chemistry is a valuable aid to complement experimental studies of organometallic systems and their reactivity. It allows probing mechanistic hypotheses and investigating molecular structures, shedding light on the behavior and properties of molecular assemblies at the atomic scale. When approaching a chemical problem, the computational chemist has to decide on the theoretical approach needed to describe electron/nuclear interactions and the composition of the model used to approximate the actual system. Both factors determine the reliability of the modeling study. The community dedicated much effort to developing and improving the performance and accuracy of theoretical approaches for electronic structure calculations, on which the description of (inter)atomic interactions rely.Here, the importance of the model system used in computational studies is highlighted through examples from our recent research focused on organometallic systems and homogeneous catalytic processes. We show how the inclusion of explicit solvent allows the characterization of molecular events that would otherwise not be accessible in reduced model systems (clusters). These include the stabilization of nascent charged fragments via microscopic solvation (notably, hydrogen bonding), transfer of charge (protons) between distant fragments mediated by solvent molecules, and solvent coordination to unsaturated metal centers. Furthermore, when weak interactions are involved, we show how conformational and solvation properties of organometallic complexes are also affected by the explicit inclusion of solvent molecules. Such extended model systems may be treated under periodic boundary conditions, thus removing the cluster/continuum (or vacuum) boundary, and require a statistical mechanics simulation technique to sample the accessible configurational space. First-principles molecular dynamics, in which atomic forces are computed from electronic structure calculations (namely, density functional theory), is certainly the technique of choice to investigate chemical events in solution. This methodology is well established and thanks to advances in both algorithms and computational resources simulation times required for the modeling of chemical events are nowadays accessible, though the computational requirements use to be high. Specific applications reviewed here include mechanistic studies of the Shilov and Wacker processes, speciation in Pd chemistry, hydrogen bonding to metal centers, and the dynamics of agostic interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1271-1278
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2016


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