Classical electrostatics in biology and chemistry

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Science  26 May 1995:
Vol. 268, Issue 5214, pp. 1144-1149
DOI: 10.1126/science.7761829


A major revival in the use of classical electrostatics as an approach to the study of charged and polar molecules in aqueous solution has been made possible through the development of fast numerical and computational methods to solve the Poisson-Boltzmann equation for solute molecules that have complex shapes and charge distributions. Graphical visualization of the calculated electrostatic potentials generated by proteins and nucleic acids has revealed insights into the role of electrostatic interactions in a wide range of biological phenomena. Classical electrostatics has also proved to be successful quantitative tool yielding accurate descriptions of electrical potentials, diffusion limited processes, pH-dependent properties of proteins, ionic strength-dependent phenomena, and the solvation free energies of organic molecules.

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