The nature of ion solvation has drawn the interest of scientists for over a century, yet a thorough theoretical understanding is still lacking. In this work, we focus on the microscopic origins underlying ionic charge asymmetric and nonlinear response contributions to ion solvation free energies. We first derive an exact expression for the charging component of the ionic free energy, the free energy change when the Coulomb interactions between a fixed ion and the solvent are gradually "turned on". We then introduce the concept of a Gaussian test charge distribution, a generalization of the classical electrostatic point test charge that can be used to probe dielectric response in atomically detailed models. This enables the study of a thermodynamic cycle that isolates a linear and charge-symmetric contribution to the free energy that is well-described by Born-model-like dielectric continuum theories. We give a simple physical derivation of the classic Born model that locally relates the induced charge density in a linear dielectric model to the applied ionic charge distribution. The nonlinear response and charge asymmetric contributions to the ion solvation free energy are then examined in the remaining steps of the cycle and compared to classic thermodynamic cycles for this process using computer simulations. The insights provided by this work will aid the development of quantitative theories for the solvation of charged solutes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry