A Multipolar Polarisable Force Field Method from Quantum Chemical Topology and Machine Learning

  • Matthew Mills

Student thesis: Phd


Force field methods are used to investigate the properties of a wide variety of chemical systems on a routine basis. The expression for the electrostatic energy typically does not take into account the anisotropic nature of the atomic electron distribution or the dependence of that distribution on the system geometry. This has been suggested as a cause of the failure of force field methods to reliably predict the behaviour of chemical systems. A method for incorporation of anisotropy and polarisation is described in this work. Anisotropy is modelled by the inclusion of multipole moments centred at atoms whose values are determined by application of the methods of Quantum Chemical Topology. Polarisation, the dependence of the electron distribution on system geometry, is modelled by training machine learning models to predict atomic multipole moments from knowledge of the nuclear positions of a system. The resulting electrostatic method can be implemented for any chemical system. An application to progressively more complex systems is reported, including small organic molecules and larger molecules of biological importance. The accuracy of the method is rigorously assessed by comparison of its predictions to exact interaction energy values. A procedure for generating transferable atomic multipole moment models is defined and tested. The electrostatic method can be combined with the empirical expressions used in force field calculations to describe total system energies by fitting parameters against ab initio conformational energies. Derivatives of the energy are given and the resulting multipolar polarisable force field can be used to perform geometry optimisation calculations. Future applications to conformational searching and problems requiring dynamic descriptions of a system are feasible.
Date of Award1 Aug 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPaul Popelier (Supervisor)


  • Machine Learning
  • Polarisation
  • Force Field
  • Multipole Moment
  • Atoms in Molecules
  • Quantum Chemical Topology

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