A continuum solvent model of the multipolar dispersion solvation energy

Timothy T. Duignan, Drew F. Parsons*, Barry W. Ninham

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    63 Citations (Scopus)


    The dispersion energy is an important contribution to the total solvation energies of ions and neutral molecules. Here, we present a new continuum model calculation of these energies, based on macroscopic quantum electrodynamics. The model uses the frequency dependent multipole polarizabilities of molecules in order to accurately calculate the dispersion interaction of a solute particle with surrounding water molecules. It includes the dipole, quadrupole, and octupole moment contributions. The water is modeled via a bulk dielectric susceptibility with a spherical cavity occupied by the solute. The model invokes damping functions to account for solute-solvent wave function overlap. The assumptions made are very similar to those used in the Born model. This provides consistency and additivity of electrostatic and dispersion (quantum mechanical) interactions. The energy increases in magnitude with cation size, but decreases slightly with size for the highly polarizable anions. The higher order multipole moments are essential, making up more than 50% of the dispersion solvation energy of the fluoride ion. This method provides an accurate and simple way of calculating the notoriously problematic dispersion contribution to the solvation energy. The result establishes the importance of using accurate calculations of the dispersion energy for the modeling of solvation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)9412-9420
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
    Issue number32
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2013


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