Remarkable patterns of surface water ordering around polarized buckminsterfullerene

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Aug 30;108(35):14455-60. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1110626108. Epub 2011 Aug 15.


Accurate description of water structure affects simulation of protein folding, substrate binding, macromolecular recognition, and complex formation. We study the hydration of buckminsterfullerene, the smallest hydrophobic nanosphere, by molecular dynamics simulations using a state-of-the-art quantum mechanical polarizable force field (QMPFF3), derived from quantum mechanical data at the MP2/aug-cc-pVTZ(-hp) level augmented by CCSD(T). QMPFF3 calculation of the hydrophobic effect is compared to that obtained with empirical force fields. Using a novel and highly sensitive method, we see polarization increases ordered water structure so that the imprint of the hydrophobic surface atoms on the surrounding waters is stronger and extends to long-range. We see less water order for empirical force fields. The greater order seen with QMPFF3 will affect biological processes through a stronger hydrophobic effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Fullerenes / chemistry*
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Models, Molecular
  • Static Electricity
  • Water / chemistry*


  • Fullerenes
  • Water