Spatially Resolved Thermodynamic Integration: An Efficient Method to Compute Chemical Potentials of Dense Fluids
Many popular methods for the calculation of chemical potentials rely on the insertion of test particles into the target system. In the case of liquids and liquid mixtures, this procedure increases in difficulty upon increasing density or concentration, and the use of sophisticated enhanced sampling techniques becomes inevitable. In this work we propose an alternative strategy, spatially resolved thermodynamic integration, or SPARTIAN for short. Here, molecules are described with atomistic resolution in a simulation subregion, and as ideal gas particles in a larger reservoir. All molecules are free to diffuse between subdomains adapting their resolution on the fly. To enforce a uniform density profile across the simulation box, a single-molecule external potential is computed, applied, and identified with the difference in chemical potential between the two resolutions. Since the reservoir is represented as an ideal gas bath, this difference exactly amounts to the excess chemical potential of the target system. The present approach surpasses the high density/concentration limitation of particle insertion methods because the ideal gas molecules entering the target system region spontaneously adapt to the local environment. The ideal gas representation contributes negligibly to the computational cost of the simulation, thus allowing one to make use of large reservoirs at minimal expenses. The method has been validated by computing excess chemical potentials for pure Lennard-Jones liquids and mixtures, SPC and SPC/E liquid water, and aqueous solutions of sodium chloride. The reported results well reproduce literature data for these systems.