Non-covalent Interactions from a Quantum Chemical Topology Perspective

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About half a century after its little-known beginnings, the quantum topological approach called QTAIM has grown into a widespread, but still not mainstream, methodology of interpretational quantum chemistry. Although often confused in textbooks with yet another population analysis, be it perhaps an elegant but somewhat esoteric one, QTAIM has been enriched with about a dozen other research areas sharing its main mathematical language, such as Interacting Quantum Atoms (IQA) or Electron Localisation Function (ELF), to form an overarching approach called Quantum Chemical Topology (QCT). Instead of reviewing the latter’s role in understanding non-covalent interactions, we propose a number of ideas emerging from the full consequences of the space-filling nature of topological atoms, and discuss how they (will) impact on interatomic interactions, including non-covalent ones. The architecture of a force field called FFLUX, which is based on these ideas, is outlined. A new method called Relative Energy Gradient (REG) is put forward, which is able, by computation, to detect which fragments of a given molecular assembly govern the energetic behaviour of this whole assembly. This method can offer insight in the typical balance of competing atomic energies both in covalent and non-covalent case studies. A brief discussion on so-called bond critical points is given, highlighting concerns about their meaning, mainly in the arena of non-covalent interactions.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of molecular modeling
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Feb 2022