My latest projects are focused around a solvent model I extended and interfaced to the excited state methods developed in our group during my PhD. But before I write about the toy system I came up with to test my latest work, let me briefly introduce you to polarizable-continuum solvation models. PCMs basically compute a set of point charges on the molecular surface which depend on the molecular electrostatic potential (ESP) to mimic the interaction with solvent molecules. These (point) charges are added to the one-electron Hamiltonian (just like the nuclei) during the self-consistent field (SCF) calculation and updated in every iteration. Eventually, one obtains a wavefunction of a molecule in solution and the interaction between the point charges and the molecular ESP corresponds to the solute-solvent interaction. The single parameter used to describe the solvent (more parameters are used, e.g. for the cavity construction) is its macroscopic dielectric constant epsilon.

After finishing and extensively evaluating a so-called non-equilibrium (NEq) solvent model for vertical excitation energies against a set of experimental data for nitroaromatics (find it here), I have recently been working on the respective equilibrium variant. In a nutshell, non-equilibrium and equilibrium solvent models can be rationalized in analogy to the Franck-Condon (FC) principle:

- The non-equilibrium case applies to vertical (i.e. very fast) processes like absorption and fluorescence. To be in accordance with the FC principle, you want to clamp the solvents nuclei, while relaxing its electronic degrees of freedom. Within a PCM, this is realized by using the optical dielectric constant (n²) instead of epsilon for a recomputation of the point charges w.r.t. the excited-state ESP. n² is nothing but the macroscopic polarizability ofa solvent at the frequency of visible light, whereas epsilon is the total polarizability (including a rearrangement of the solvent nuclei).
- The equilibrium case applies to long-lived states, i.e. whenever you expect your systems nuclei to relax w.r.t. an excited state potential energy surface. Consequently, you should also relax the solvents nuclei, which is equivalent to recompute the surface charge for the new molecular charge distribution using the full dielectric constant just like for the ground state.

Although the explanation and also the equations for the non-equilibrium case are slightly more complicated due to the separation into fast (n²) and slow (epsilon) parts of the polarization, they are much simpler to implement. The reason being that n² of typical solvents is rather small one hence, one can apply perturbation theory an turn it into a correction for excitation energies. For details, see my paper.

The equilibrium case looks straightforward at first glance, but turns out much more complicated w.r.t. its implementation because of the way our excited-state methods work: We compute the Hartree-Fock (HF) ground-state wavefunction (in the form of molecular orbitals, short MOs) and subsequently use it as a basis for the calculation of excited-state wavefunctions and excitation energies with ADC (Algebraic-Diagrammatic Construction for the Polarization Propagator, a configuration-interaction type excited-state method).

Since the HF MOs contain the interaction with PCM surface charges just like they contain the interaction with the nuclei, one needs the PCM surface charges of the excited state before you do the initial HF calculation. Since this is not possible, one has to iterate between HF and ADC until the solvent field and the excited-state ESP are converged, like so:

Since the HF MOs contain the interaction with PCM surface charges just like they contain the interaction with the nuclei, one needs the PCM surface charges of the excited state before you do the initial HF calculation. Since this is not possible, one has to iterate between HF and ADC until the solvent field and the excited-state ESP are converged, like so:

- Standard HF calculation with PCM solvent model => MOs
- ADC calculation using HF MOs => excited-state density
- HF calculation in the "frozen" surface-charges for ES density=> new MOs
- ADC calculation with new MOs to obtain new excited-state density
- repeat from 3 until surface charges/energy are converged

So long!

Jan