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A Hybrid Approach To Simulation Of Electron Transfer In Complex Molecular Systems

Tomáš Kubař, Marcus Elstner

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Electron transfer (ET) reactions in biomolecular systems represent an important class of processes at the interface of physics, chemistry and biology. The theoretical description of these reactions constitutes a huge challenge because extensive systems require a quantum-mechanical treatment and a broad range of time scales are involved. Thus, only small model systems may be investigated with the modern density functional theory techniques combined with non-adiabatic dynamics algorithms. On the other hand, model calculations based on Marcus's seminal theory describe the ET involving several assumptions that may not always be met. We review a multi-scale method that combines a non-adiabatic propagation scheme and a linear scaling quantum-chemical method with a molecular mechanics force field in such a way that an unbiased description of the dynamics of excess electron is achieved and the number of degrees of freedom is reduced effectively at the same time. ET reactions taking nanoseconds in systems with hundreds of quantum atoms can be simulated, bridging the gap between non-adiabatic ab initio simulations and model approaches such as the Marcus theory. A major recent application is hole transfer in DNA, which represents an archetypal ET reaction in a polarizable medium. Ongoing work focuses on hole transfer in proteins, peptides and organic semi-conductors.