Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Molecular dynamics

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Molecular dynamics (MD) is a computer simulation of physical movements of atoms and molecules. The atoms and molecules are allowed to interact for a period of time, giving a view of the motion of the atoms. In the most common version, the trajectories of molecules and atoms are determined by numerically solving the Newton's equations of motion for a system of interacting particles, where forces between the particles and potential energy are defined by molecular mechanics force fields. The method was originally conceived within theoretical physics in the late 1950s[1] and early 1960s ,[2] but is applied today mostly in materials science and the modeling of biomolecules.

Because molecular systems consist of a vast number of particles, it is impossible to find the properties of such complex systems analytically; MD simulation circumvents this problem by using numerical methods. However, long MD simulations are mathematically ill-conditioned, generating cumulative errors in numerical integration that can be minimized with proper selection of algorithms and parameters, but not eliminated entirely.

The results of molecular dynamics simulations may be used to determine macroscopic thermodynamic properties of the system based on the ergodic hypothesis: the statistical ensemble averages are equal to time averages of the system. MD has also been termed "statistical mechanics by numbers" and "Laplace's vision of Newtonian mechanics" of predicting the future by animating nature's forces[3][4] and allowing insight into molecular motion on an atomic scale.
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