Mapping saddles and minima on free energy surfaces using multiple climbing strings

Gourav Shrivastav, Eric Vanden-Eijnden, Cameron F. Abrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Locating saddle points on free energy surfaces is key in characterizing multistate transition events in complicated molecular-scale systems. Because these saddle points represent transition states, determining minimum free energy pathways to these saddles and measuring their free energies relative to their connected minima are further necessary, for instance, to estimate transition rates. In this work, we propose a new multistring version of the climbing string method in collective variables to locate all saddles and corresponding pathways on free energy surfaces. The method uses dynamic strings to locate saddles and static strings to keep a history of prior strings converged to saddles. Interaction of the dynamic strings with the static strings is used to avoid the convergence to already-identified saddles. Additionally, because the strings approximate curves in collective-variable space, and we can measure free energy along each curve, identification of any saddle's two connected minima is guaranteed. We demonstrate this method to map the network of stationary points in the 2D and 4D free energy surfaces of alanine dipeptide and alanine tripeptide, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number124112
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Sep 28 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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