Waterloo Soft Matter Theory 2013
Electrostatic phenomena in soft matter systems are often intriguing or even counterintuitive. DNA condensation by polyvalent counterions is now a classic example by which highly-negatively charged DNA strands attract each other in the presence of poly-cations. Also Mg2+ can stabilize inverted hexagonal phases of lipid aggregates that would otherwise form lamellar phases. Here we discuss another intriguing electrostatic phenomenon: electrostatic modification of lipid membranes by poly-cations.
While successfully reproducing hydrophobic and hydrophilic interactions the Martini model is insufficient to keep a protein folded as it lacks electrostatic interactions. Using split charge equilibration at each time step can yield realistic dynamic bead charges. Combining this with a Drude oscillator based polarization model for all beads will permit modeling of hydrogen bonds to maintain secondary protein structure and will enable more accurate coarse-grained simulations of protein-protein and protein-membrane interactions.
Confinement can influence qualitatively the spatial organization of polymer chains. Cylindrical confinement is of particular interest since it not only stiffens individual chains but also enhances their segregation. Here we discuss a ring copolymer confined in a closed cylindrical space as a model nucleoid (an intracellular space where the bacterial chromosome is confined). When the cylinder and polymer parameters are chosen properly our model explains quantitatively recent experimental results for the spatial organization of the E. coli chromosome.
A thin partially wetting layer of liquid will dewet from an unfavourable substrate resulting in spherical cap shaped droplets next to a microscopically thin residual wetting layer of the liquid. We have measured a discrete spectrum of contact angles for dewetted droplets of a lamellar diblock copolymer in its disordered phase instead of the single unique contact angle that is usually observed. The different contact angles coexist with various thicknesses of wetting layer and the spectrum of measured contact angles shifts as the temperature is raised.
We use coarse-grained molecular-dynamics (MD) simulations to study the fragmentation of sodium dodecyl sulfate micelles under Poiseuille-like flow in a die-extruder geometry. The effect of flow confinement and wetting on spherical micelles is explored. We demonstrate that the interplay between flow and the wettability of the channel determines the size of daughter micelles inside the channel.
Colloidal particles organize spontaneously at fluid interfaces owing to a variety of interactions to form well organized structures that can be exploited to synthesize advanced materials. While the physics of colloidal assembly at isotropic interfaces is well understood the mechanisms that govern interactions between particles at liquid crystal interfaces are not yet clearly established. In particular smectic liquid crystal films offer important degrees of freedom that can be used to direct particles into new structures.
Mineral-associated proteins have been proposed to play a central role not only in assisting the growth of biomineral crystals in hard tissues but also in preventing or limiting mineral formation in soft tissues. The elucidation of protein-biomineral interactions may lead to the design of mineralized tissues with novel properties and most importantly the development of therapies for common diseases such as kidney stones calcification in blood vessels osteoporosis etc. However the mechanism of the interaction at this unique organic-inorganic interface is still poorly understood.
The self-assembled structures formed in binary blends of AB/CD diblock copolymers are studied using self-consistent field theory focusing on cases with attractive A/C and repulsive B/D interactions. The attractive A/C interaction prevents macroscopic phase separation whereas the repulsive B/D interaction promotes B/D separation leading to the formation of complex hierarchical structures. The combination of these features makes the AB/CD blend an ideal model system for the study of hierarchical self-assembly.
Wang et al.
[PNAS 106 (2009) 15160] have found that in several systems, the linear time
dependence of mean-square displacement (MSD) of diffusing colloidal particles,
typical of normal diffusion, is accompanied by a non-Gaussian displacement
distribution (DD), with roughly exponential tails at short times, a situation
termed “anomalous yet Brownian” diffusion. We point out that lack of “direction
memory” in the particle trajectory (a jump in a particular direction does not