Daniel Cole

Natural bond orbital analysis in the ONETEP code: Applications to large protein systems


Louis P. Lee,1 Daniel J. Cole,1 Mike C. Payne,1 Chris-Kriton Skylaris,2
1Theory of Condensed Matter Group, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 0HE, UK
2School of Chemistry, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK


First principles electronic structure calculations are typically performed in terms of molecular orbitals (or bands), providing a straightforward theoretical avenue for approximations of increasing sophistication, but do not usually provide any qualitative chemical information about the system. We can derive such information via post-processing using natural bond orbital (NBO) analysis, which produces a chemical picture of bonding in terms of localized Lewis-type bond and lone pair orbitals that we can use to understand molecular structure and interactions. We present NBO analysis of large-scale calculations with the ONETEP linear-scaling density functional theory package, which we have interfaced with the NBO 5 analysis program. In ONETEP calculations involving thousands of atoms, one is typically interested in particular regions of a nanosystem whilst accounting for long-range electronic effects from the entire system. We show that by transforming the Non-orthogonal Generalized Wannier Functions of ONETEP to natural atomic orbitals, NBO analysis can be performed within a localized region in such a way that ensures the results are identical to an analysis on the full system. We demonstrate the capabilities of this approach by performing illustrative studies of large proteins - namely, investigating changes in charge transfer between the heme group of myoglobin and its ligands with increasing system size and between a protein and its explicit solvent, estimating the contribution of electronic delocalization to the stabilization of hydrogen bonds in the binding pocket of a drug-receptor complex, and observing, in situ, the n->pi* hyperconjugative interactions between carbonyl groups that stabilize protein backbones.

Journal of Computational Chemistry, 34, 429 (2013)