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Issue 11, 2013
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Phase transition of a single protein-like copolymer chain

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Protein-like copolymers (PLCs) are a kind of artificial macromolecule owning protein characteristics. We investigate the general phase transition of a single PLC chain with uniform block structure using a parallel Wang–Landau sampling method. Two typical PLC models, i.e. HP and AB models, are employed to reveal the hydrophobic effect and the phase separation effect for a PLC chain folding in aqueous environments. It is found that the block length m greatly influences the phase transition of PLC. With increasing m, the low energy stable structures for the HP model change from a tube-like aggregation to a tadpole-shape structure, and for the AB model they evolve from a multilayer structure to two separated spheres. When m is very small, the liquid–crystal transition disappears. When m is larger, the AB-PLC shows two first order transitions corresponding to the A and B phase separation transition and the liquid–crystal transition, respectively, while the HP model only shows one first order liquid–crystal transition. We further found that during the freezing of the AB-PLC, the whole chain experiences a special intermediate state where one component is embedded by another component. The result is valuable to design the functional single-molecule devices and next generation nano building blocks using PLCs.

Graphical abstract: Phase transition of a single protein-like copolymer chain

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Publication details

The article was received on 24 Oct 2012, accepted on 09 Jan 2013 and first published on 05 Feb 2013

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C3SM27454C
Citation: Soft Matter, 2013,9, 3106-3116
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    Phase transition of a single protein-like copolymer chain

    Z. Wang, L. Wang and X. He, Soft Matter, 2013, 9, 3106
    DOI: 10.1039/C3SM27454C

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