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Issue 38, 2017
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Spin variable approach for the statistical mechanics of folding and unfolding chains

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Abstract

The force–extension response of chains composed of bistable (or multistable) units strongly depends on the applied boundary conditions. As a matter of fact, isotensional conditions (soft devices) lead to a plateau-like response, whereas isometric conditions (hard devices) lead to a sawtooth-like pattern. We develop an equilibrium statistical mechanics methodology, based on the introduction of a set of discrete or spin variables, which is able to describe the thermal and mechanical properties of a folding and unfolding chain under arbitrary external conditions. In particular, we will work within the Gibbs and Helmholtz ensembles, which correspond to soft and hard devices, respectively. We introduce a one-dimensional system composed of multistable units and a bistable freely jointed chain. For both systems we obtain explicit expressions for the force–extension relation and we study the spinoidal behavior induced by the isometric conditions.

Graphical abstract: Spin variable approach for the statistical mechanics of folding and unfolding chains

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Publication details

The article was received on 03 May 2017, accepted on 07 Aug 2017 and first published on 08 Aug 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7SM00882A
Citation: Soft Matter, 2017,13, 6877-6893
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    Spin variable approach for the statistical mechanics of folding and unfolding chains

    S. Giordano, Soft Matter, 2017, 13, 6877
    DOI: 10.1039/C7SM00882A

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