Fully quantum dynamics of protonated water clusters

Abstract : There is no theory up to now able to provide an accurate and quantitative description of the proton transfer (PT) yet. Indeed, the complexity of the problem stems from the large diversity of the existing interactions in liquid water, namely: non bonding Van der Waals interactions, weakly covalent bonds and remarkably strong H-bonds. The latter ones are at the origin of the numerous fascinating properties of water at the macroscopic scale. In addition to such interactions, the nuclear quantum effects arising from the hydrogen light mass deeply modify the potential energy surface, and must be taken into account. In this thesis, we propose a fully quantum approach based on an almost exact description of the electronic wave function by means of Quantum Monte Carlo (QMC) methods. Our novel technique combines QMC with a Langevin-based Molecular Dynamics and the Feynman's path integral formalism. This allows one to perform fully quantum simulations of systems in gas or condensed phase, at an unprecedented level of accuracy,. We apply our approach to neutral or charged protonated water clusters to shed light on the microscopic phenomena driving the proton diffusion in such systems. We discovered that the proton hopping is optimal for temperatures close to ambient conditions, due to the subtle competition between thermal and nuclear quantum effects. This is highly suggestive of the importance of quantum nuclear effects to make PT processes - relevant for life - most efficient at room temperature.
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Félix Mouhat. Fully quantum dynamics of protonated water clusters. Condensed Matter [cond-mat]. Sorbonne Université, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018SORUS056⟩. ⟨tel-02137552⟩

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