MiMiC Hybrid Quantum Mechanical/Molecular Mechanical simulations#

This section describes the coupling to a novel QM/MM interface. The Multiscale Modeling in Computational Chemistry (MiMiC) interface combines GROMACS with the CPMD QM code. To find information about other QM/MM implementations in GROMACS please refer to the section Hybrid Quantum-Classical simulations (QM/MM) with CP2K interface. Within a QM/MM approach, typically a small part of the system (e.g. active site of an enzyme where a chemical reaction can take place) is treated at the QM level of theory (as we cannot neglect electronic degrees of freedom while describing some processes e.g. chemical reactions), while the rest of the system (remainder of the protein, solvent, etc.) is described by the classical forcefield (MM).


MiMiC implements the QM/MM coupling scheme developed by the group of Prof. U. Roethlisberger described in 180. This additive scheme uses electrostatic embedding of the classical system within the quantum Hamiltonian. The total QM/MM energy is calculated as a sum of subsystem contributions:

\[E_{tot} = E_{QM}+E_{MM}+E_{QM/MM}\]

The QM contribution is computed by CPMD, while the MM part is processed by GROMACS and the cross terms are treated by the MiMiC interface. Cross terms, i.e. the terms involving simultaneously atoms from the QM region and atoms from the MM region consist of both bonded and non-bonded interactions.

The bonded interactions are taken from the forcefield used to describe the MM part. Whenever there is a chemical bond crossing the QM/MM boundary additional care has to be taken to handle this situation correctly. Otherwise the QM atom involved in the cut bond is left with an unsaturated electronic orbital leading to unphysical system behaviour. Therefore, the dangling bond has to be capped with another QM atom. There are two different options available in CPMD for bond capping:

  1. Hydrogen capping - the simplest approach is to cap the bond with a hydrogen atom, constraining its relative position

  2. Link atom pseudo-potential - this strategy uses an ad-hoc pseudo-potential developed to cap the bond. This pseudo-potential would represent the real atom and, thus, will not require the bond constraint.

As in standard forcefields, the non-bonded contributions to \(E_{QM/MM}\) can be separated into van der Waals and electrostatic contributions. The first contribution is again taken from the MM forcefield. The second part of non-bonded interactions is handled by MiMiC within the electrostatic embedding approach. This adds additional terms to the Hamiltonian of the system:

\[E_{QM/MM}^{es} = -\sum_a^{N_{mm}}Q_a\int\rho(\mathbf{r})\frac{r_{c,a}^4 - |\mathbf{R_a} - \mathbf{r}|^4}{r_{c,a}^5 - |\mathbf{R_a} - \mathbf{r}|^5}d\mathbf{r} + \sum_a^{N_{mm}}\sum_n^{N_{qm}}Q_aZ_n \frac{r_{c,a}^4 - |\mathbf{R_a} - \mathbf{R_n}|^4} {r_{c,a}^5 - |\mathbf{R_a} - \mathbf{R_n}|^5}\]

where \(N_{mm}\) is a number of MM atoms \(N_{qm}\), is the number of QM atoms and \(r_{c,a}\) is the covalent radius of the MM atoms. The first term above corresponds to the damped Coulomb interaction between the eletronic density \(\rho(\mathbf{r})\) of the QM region and the MM atoms. The damping is needed due to the fact that CPMD uses a plane-wave basis set to expand the electronic wavefunction. Unlike localized basis sets, plane waves are delocalized and this may give a rise to the so-called electron spill-out problem: positively charged MM atoms may artificially overpolarize the electronic cloud due to the absence of quantum mechanical effects (e.g. Pauli repusion) that would normally prevent it (in a fully quantum system). This functional form of the damped Coulomb potential from the equation above was introduced in 180.

Since computing the integrals in the first term above can be computational extremely expensive, MiMiC also implements hierarchical electrostatic embedding scheme in order to mitigate the enormous computational effort needed to compute \(N_{mm}\) integrals over the electronic grid. Within this scheme the MM atoms are grouped into two shells according to the distance from the QM region: the short-ranged and long-ranged one. For the MM atoms in the short-ranged shell the QM/MM interactions are calculated using the equation above. In contrast to that, the interactions involving MM atoms from the long-ranged shell are computed using the multipolar expansion of the QM electrostatic potential. More details about it can be found in 180.

Application coupling model#

Unlike the majority of QM/MM interfaces, MiMiC uses a loose coupling between partner codes. This means that instead of compiling both codes into a single binary MiMiC builds separate executables for CPMD and GROMACS. The user will then prepare the input for both codes and run them simultaneously. Each of the codes is running using a separate pool of MPI processes and communicate the necessary data (e.g. coordinates, energies and forces) through MPI client-server mechanism. Within MiMiC framework CPMD acts as a server and GROMACS becomes the client.

Software prerequisites#

  1. GROMACS version 2019+. Newer major releases may support multiple versions of MiMiC.

  2. CPMD version 4.1+.


After Building with MiMiC QM/MM support, to run a MiMiC QM/MM simulation one needs to:

  1. Get and compile CPMD with MiMiC support.

  2. Do a normal classical equilibration with GROMACS.

  3. Create an index group representing QM atoms within GROMACS. Keep in mind that this group should also include link atoms bound to atoms in the QM region, as they have to be treated at quantum level.

  4. Prepare input for CPMD and GROMACS according to the recommendations below.

  5. Run both CPMD and GROMACS as two independent instances within a single batch job.

Preparing the input file for GROMACS#

In order to setup the mdp file for a MiMiC simulation one needs to add two options:

  1. integrator=mimic to enable MiMiC workflow within GROMACS.

  2. QMMM-grps=<name_of_qm_index_group> to indicate all the atoms that are going to be handled by CPMD.

Since CPMD is going to perform the MD integration, only mdp options relating to force calculation and output are active.

After setting up the mdp file one can run grompp as usual. grompp will set the charges of all the QM atoms to zero to avoid double-counting of Coulomb interactions. Moreover, it will update non-bonded exclusion lists to exclude LJ interactions between QM atoms (since they will be described by CPMD). Finally, it will remove bonds between QM atoms (if present). We recommend to output the preprocessed topology file using gmx grompp -pp <preprocessed_topology_file> as it will help to prepare the input for CPMD in an automated way.

Preparing the input file for CPMD#

This section will only describe the MiMiC-related input in CPMD - for the configuration of a DFT-related options - please refer to the CPMD manual. After preparing the input for GROMACS and having obtained the preprocessed topology file, simply run the Python preprocessor script provided within the MiMiC distribution to obtain MiMiC-related part of the CPMD input file. The usage of the script is simple:

prepare-qmmm.py <index_file> <gro_file> <preprocessed_topology_file> <qm_group_name>

Be advised that for MiMiC it is crucial that the forcefield contains the data about the element number of each atom type! If it does not provide it, the preprocessor will fail with the error:

It looks like the forcefield that you are using has no information about the element number.
The element number is needed to run QM/MM simulations.

Given all the relevant information the script will print the part of the CPMD input that is related to MiMiC. Here is the sample output with the short descriptions of keywords that can be found in this part of CPMD input:

35.77988547402689 35.77988547402689 35.77988547402689
2 13 1 1
2 14 1 2
2 15 1 3

17.23430225802002 17.76342557295923 18.576007806615877
18.557110545368047 19.086233860307257 18.727185896598506
17.57445296048094 16.705178943080806 17.06422690678956
Suggested QM box size [12.661165036045407, 13.71941166592383, 13.00131573850633]

&MIMIC section contains MiMiC settings:

PATHS indicates number of MM client codes involved in the simulation and the absolute path to each of their respective folder. Keep in mind that this path has to point to the folder, where GROMACS is going to be run – otherwise it will cause a deadlock in CPMD! The next line contains the number of MM codes (1 in this case) and next \(N\) lines contain paths to their respective working directories

BOX indicates the size of the whole simulation box in Bohr in an X Y Z format

OVERLAPS - sets the number and IDs of atoms within GROMACS that are going to be treated by CPMD. The format is the following:

<code_id> <atom_id_in_code> <host_code_id> <atom_id_in_that_code>

CPMD host code id is always ID 1. Therefore, in a QM/MM simulation GROMACS will have code ID 2.

(OPTIONAL) LONG-RANGE COUPLING - enables the faster multipole coupling for atoms located at a certain distance from the QM box

(OPTIONAL) CUTOFF DISTANCE - the next line contains the cutoff for explicit Coulomb coupling (20 Bohr by default if LONG-RANGE COUPLING is present)

(OPTIONAL) MULTIPOLE ORDER - The next line will contain the order at which the multipolar expansion will be truncated (default 2, maximum 20).

The &ATOMS section of CPMD input file contains all the QM atoms within the system and has a default CPMD formatting. Please refer to the CPMD manual to adjust it to your needs(one will need to set the correct pseudo-potential for each atom species).

Finally, the preprocessor suggests the size of the QM box where the electronic density is going to be contained. The suggested value is not final - further adjustment by user may be required.

Running a MiMiC QM/MM simulation#

In order to run the simulation, one will need to run both GROMACS and CPMD within one job. This is easily done within the vast majority of queueing systems. For example in case of SLURM queue system one can use two job steps within one job. Here is the example job script running a 242-node slurm job, allocating 2 nodes to GROMACS and 240 nodes to CPMD (both codes are launched in the same folder):

#!/bin/bash -x
#SBATCH --nodes=242
#SBATCH --output=mpi-out.%j
#SBATCH --error=mpi-err.%j
#SBATCH --time=00:25:00
#SBATCH --partition=batch

# *** start of job script ***

srun -N2 --ntasks-per-node=6 --cpus-per-task=4 -r0 gmx_mpi_d mdrun -deffnm mimic -ntomp 4 &
srun -N240 --ntasks-per-node=6 --cpus-per-task=4 -r2 cpmd.x benchmark.inp <path_to_pp_folder> > benchmark-240-4.out &

Known Issues#

OpenMPI prior to version 3.x.x has a bug preventing the usage of MiMiC completely - please use newer versions or other MPI distributions.

With IntelMPI communication between CPMD and GROMACS may result in a deadlock in some situations. If it happens, setting an IntelMPI-related environment variable may help: