Disassembling solvation free energies into local contributions—Toward a microscopic understanding of solvation processes

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22 Scopus citations


Solvation free energies contribute to the driving force of molecular processes in solution and play a significant role for the relative stability of biomolecular conformations or the formation of complexes. Changes in solvation free energy are the origin of solvent-mediated interactions such as the hydrophobic effect in water. However, an accurate description of solvation free energies, specifically in aqueous solution, without explicit representation of the solvent is a challenging task in computer simulations. To improve existing models detailed microscopic information on solute–solvent interactions is required, which is not directly accessible from experiments. Explicit solvent simulations include solvent-mediated effects, however, at a considerable computational cost. Computational tools have been proposed in recent years to extract information on solvation free energies and solute–solvent interactions from explicit solvent simulations. The latter includes spatial decompositions of the solvation enthalpy and entropy, which may eventually lead to an improved theoretical understanding of solvation thermodynamics. This article is categorized under: Molecular and Statistical Mechanics> Free Energy Methods Theoretical and Physical Chemistry > Statistical Mechanics Structure and Mechanism > Computational Biochemistry and Biophysics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1390
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Computational Molecular Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • entropy
  • free energy
  • molecular dynamics
  • solvation
  • water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Materials Chemistry


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