Revisiting the finite temperature string method for the calculation of reaction tubes and free energies

Eric Vanden-Eijnden, Maddalena Venturoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An improved and simplified version of the finite temperature string (FTS) method [W. E, W. Ren, and E. Vanden-Eijnden, J. Phys. Chem. B 109, 6688 (2005)] is proposed. Like the original approach, the new method is a scheme to calculate the principal curves associated with the Boltzmann-Gibbs probability distribution of the system, i.e., the curves which are such that their intersection with the hyperplanes perpendicular to themselves coincides with the expected position of the system in these planes (where perpendicular is understood with respect to the appropriate metric). Unlike more standard paths such as the minimum energy path or the minimum free energy path, the location of the principal curve depends on global features of the energy or the free energy landscapes and thereby may remain appropriate in situations where the landscape is rough on the thermal energy scale and/or entropic effects related to the width of the reaction channels matter. Instead of using constrained sampling in hyperplanes as in the original FTS, the new method calculates the principal curve via sampling in the Voronoi tessellation whose generating points are the discretization points along this curve. As shown here, this modification results in greater algorithmic simplicity. As a by-product, it also gives the free energy associated with the Voronoi tessellation. The new method can be applied both in the original Cartesian space of the system or in a set of collective variables. We illustrate FTS on test-case examples and apply it to the study of conformational transitions of the nitrogen regulatory protein C receiver domain using an elastic network model and to the isomerization of solvated alanine dipeptide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number194103
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number19
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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