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Issue 15, 2013
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Monte Carlo simulations of a polymer confined within a fluid vesicle

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Monte Carlo simulations are employed to study a fluid vesicle that contains a single worm-like polymer chain. The contour length of the polymer is about five times the circumference of the nominally spherical vesicle. We vary the degree of polymer confinement in our simulations by increasing the persistence length of the polymer. The vesicle is represented by a randomly triangulated self-avoiding network that can undergo bending deformations. Upon increasing the persistence length of the polymer beyond the size of the vesicle, we observe a transition of the polymer from an isotropic disordered random conformation to an ordered toroidal coil. Concomitantly, the vesicle adopts an oblate shape to allow for some expansion of the polymer coil inside the vesicle. It is convenient to characterize both polymer and vesicle in terms of the asphericity, a quantity derived from the gyration tensor. At the onset of the polymer's ordering transition, the asphericity passes through a minimum for both polymer and vesicle. The increase in vesicle asphericity for a semi-flexible polymer can be understood in terms of ground state energy calculations, either for a simplified representation of the vesicle shape (we specifically discuss a disk shape with a semi-toroidal rim) or involving a full vesicle shape optimization. The asphericity of the polymer coil results from conformational fluctuations and can be rationalized using Odijk's deflection length of strongly curved semi-flexible polymers.

Graphical abstract: Monte Carlo simulations of a polymer confined within a fluid vesicle

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Publication details

The article was received on 22 Dec 2012, accepted on 14 Feb 2013 and first published on 27 Feb 2013

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C3SM27938C
Citation: Soft Matter, 2013,9, 3976-3984
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    Monte Carlo simulations of a polymer confined within a fluid vesicle

    M. Fošnarič, A. Iglič, D. M. Kroll and S. May, Soft Matter, 2013, 9, 3976
    DOI: 10.1039/C3SM27938C

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