Free energy of liquid water from a computer simulation via cell theory

Richard H. Henchman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    A method to calculate the free energy of water from computer simulation is presented. Based on cell theory, it approximates the potential energy surface sampled in the simulation by an anisotropic six-dimensional harmonic potential to model the three hindered translations and three hindered rotations of a single rigid water molecule. The potential is parametrized from the magnitude of the forces and torques measured in the simulation. The entropy of these six harmonic oscillators is calculated and summed with a conformational term to give the total entropy. Combining this with the simulation enthalpy yields the free energy. The six water models examined are TIP3P, SPC, TIP4P, SPC/E, TIP5P, and TIP4P-Ew. The results reproduce experiment well: free energies for all models are within 1.6 kJ mol-1 and entropies are within 3.6 J K-1 mol-1. Approximately two-thirds of the entropy comes from translation, a third from rotation, and 5% from conformation. Vibrational frequencies match those in the experimental infrared spectrum and assist in their assignment. Intermolecular quantum effects are found to be small, with free energies for the classical oscillator lying 0.5-0.7 kJ mol-1 higher than in the quantum case. Molecular displacements and vibrational and zero point energies are also calculated. Altogether, these results validate the harmonic oscillator as a quantitative model for the liquid state. © 2007 American Institute of Physics.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number064504
    JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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