Knots in charged polymers

Paul G. Dommersnes*, Yacov Kantor, Mehran Kardar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The interplay of topological constraints and Coulomb interactions in static and dynamic properties of charged polymers is investigated by numerical simulations and scaling arguments. In the absence of screening, the long-range interaction localizes irreducible topological constraints into tight molecular knots, while composite constraints are factored and separated. Even when the forces are screened, tight knots may survive as local (or even global) equilibria, as long as the overall rigidity of the polymer is dominated by the Coulomb interactions. As entanglements involving tight knots are not easy to eliminate, their presence greatly influences the relaxation times of the system. In particular, we find that tight knots in open polymers are removed by diffusion along the chain, rather than by opening up. The knot diffusion coefficient actually decreases with its charge density, and for highly charged polymers the knot’s position appears frozen.

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