We have over 12,000 students, from over 100 countries, within one of the safest campuses in the UK


93% of Lancaster students go into work or further study within six months of graduating

Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > An approach to developing a force field for mol...
View graph of relations

« Back

An approach to developing a force field for molecular simulation of martensitic phase transitions between phases with subtle differences in energy and structure

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>14/01/2004
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of the American Chemical Society
Number of pages10
<mark>Original language</mark>English


D,L-Norleucine is one of only a few molecules whose crystals exhibit a martensitic or displacive-type phase transformation where the emerging phase shows a topotaxial relationship with the parent phase. The molecular mechanism for such phase transformations, particularly in molecular crystals, is not well understood. Crystalline phases that exhibit displacive phase transitions tend to be very similar in structure and energy. Consequently, the development of a force field for such phases is challenging as the phase behavior is determined by subtle differences in their lattice energies and entropies. We report an approach for developing a force field for such phases with an application to D,L-norleucine. The proposed procedure includes calculation of the phase diagram of the crystalline phases as a function of temperature to identify the best force field. D,L-Norleucine also presents an additional problem since in the solid state it exists as a zwitterion that is unstable in vacuo and therefore cannot be characterized using high-level ab initio calculations in the gas phase. However, a stable zwitterion could be obtained using Onsager's reaction-field continuum model for a solvent (SCRF) using both Hartree-Fock and density functional theory. A number of force fields and the various sets of partial charges obtained from the SCRF calculations were screened for their ability to reproduce the crystal structures of the two known phases, alpha and beta, Of D,L-norleucine. Selected parameter sets were then employed in free energy minimizations to identify the best set on the basis of a correct prediction of the alpha-beta phase transition. The Williams' nonbonded parameters combined with partial charges from SCRF-Polarized Continuum Model calculation were found to reproduce the structures of the phases accurately and also maintained their stability in extended molecular dynamics simulations in the Parrinello-Rahman constant stress ensemble. Moreover, we were also able to successfully simulate the phase transformation of the beta- to the alpha-phase. The identified force field should enable detailed studies of the phase transformations exhibited by crystals Of D,L-norleucine and hence enhance our understanding of martensitic-type transformations in molecular crystals.