A dynamical approach to non-adiabatic electron transfers at the bio-inorganic interface
A methodology is proposed to investigate electron transfer reactions between redox-active biomolecular systems (e.g. a protein) and inorganic surfaces. The whole system is modelled at the atomistic level using classical molecular dynamics – making an extensive sampling of the system's configurations possible – and the energies associated with the redox-active complex reduction are calculated using a hybrid quantum/classical approach along the molecular dynamics trajectory. The non-adiabaticity is introduced a posteriori using a Monte Carlo approach based on the Landau–Zener theory extended to treat a metal surface. This approach thus allows us to investigate the role of the energy fluctuations, determined by the dynamical evolution of the system, as well as the role of non-adiabaticity in affecting the kinetic rate of the electron transfer reaction. Most notably, it allows us to investigate the two contributions separately, hence achieving a detailed picture of the mechanisms that determine the rate. The analysis of the system configurations also allows us to relate the estimated electronic coupling to the structural and dynamic properties of the system. As a test case, the methodology is here applied to study the electron transfer reaction between cytochrome c and a gold surface. The results obtained explain the different electron transfer rates experimentally measured for two different concentrations of proteins on the electrode surface.