Static and Dynamic Correlations in Water: Comparison of Classical Ab Initio Molecular Dynamics at Elevated Temperature with Path Integral Simulations at Ambient Temperature

J Chem Theory Comput. 2022 Apr 12;18(4):2124-2131. doi: 10.1021/acs.jctc.1c01223. Epub 2022 Mar 9.


It is a common practice in ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) simulations of water to use an elevated temperature to overcome the overstructuring and slow diffusion predicted by most current density functional theory (DFT) models. The simulation results obtained in this distinct thermodynamic state are then compared with experimental data at ambient temperature based on the rationale that a higher temperature effectively recovers nuclear quantum effects (NQEs) that are missing in the classical AIMD simulations. In this work, we systematically examine the foundation of this assumption for several DFT models as well as for the many-body MB-pol model. We find for the cases studied that a higher temperature does not correctly mimic NQEs at room temperature, which is especially manifest in significantly different three-molecule correlations as well as hydrogen bond dynamics. In many of these cases, the effects of NQEs are the opposite of the effects of carrying out the simulations at an elevated temperature.

MeSH terms

  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation*
  • Quantum Theory
  • Temperature
  • Thermodynamics
  • Water* / chemistry


  • Water