Setting up Computational Chemistry (Quantum Chemistry) laboratory? Technical stuffs-Part I

Anant Babu Marahatta
Ph.D. student in chemistry
Tohoku University, Japan

(Being a 4th year Doctoral student majoring Quantum chemistry, “Nepa Chem’s-facebook-status” on 11th April 2011 motivated me to write this article. It is solely dedicated to our energetic seniors/colleagues who are planning to introduce the Computational Chemistry lab in Nepal.)

This informative article is intended to provide some pre-requisites needed to set up very basic computational chemistry (Quantum Chemistry) laboratory. It is not valid to those who want to establish the high-tech lab by installing the supercomputing calculators into the networks which is a very common way in the renowned research institutions. Even though “LINUX” computer operating system with “Emacs”, world's most powerful text editor, is very common to be installed into the computer, the basic computational laboratory can be set up in the absence of them.

Thus, the person who is master on handling the networking systems of the supercomputers (calculators) with the personal computer (local machine) having installed LINUX is assigned as an administrator of the computational chemistry laboratory. Therefore, nominating a technical staff with such assignments is the crucial point to set up the advanced computational laboratory.

Let me start by defining computational chemistry, a branch of chemistry that uses principles of computer science to assist in solving chemical problems. Thus the computers with good memory are the very fundamental tools of it.

Now think yourself that how can computers generate a chemistry of the matter? It does suggest that without using any chemistry related software developed by utilizing the results of the theoretical chemistry (quantum and statistical chemistry), computing chemical and physical properties of the matter are impossible. Thus saying “Computers alone don’t calculate chemistry of the matter” is very usual fact. The most essential tool is the chemical software developed by implementing the results of the quantum and statistical chemistry. Just for making quantum chemistry in action, computer is essential. That’s the reason, why computational chemistry most of the time refers to the quantum chemistry as it is governed by the solution of the Schrödinger equations in order to know everything about the system.

On account of setting very simple computational laboratory for conducting normal level calculation of the small molecular system, the general computers which we use in our daily purpose is more than enough. Thus, even the very poor research institutes can afford such computers. Now the problem is about the chemical software to be installed into each assigned computer. As the molecular synthesis is very needful step in experimental chemistry, in computational chemistry too, one must engineer/model the molecule by using computer. This movie is an example of model making processes and the appearance while running the computational calculations.

The software for designing the molecule and computing the calculations will be discussed in part II.

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