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Issue 4, 2008
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Pseudo-knots in helical structures

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It is generally accepted that physical entanglements are essential to explain some mechanical properties of polymers, like viscoelasticity. The current view is that entanglements behave as dynamic links that are destroyed and created in time. It is less clear whether entanglements could alternatively produce local and stable links, with similar effects to chemical bonds. Here we show that local and stable entanglements, that we call physical pseudo-knots, exist and are formed with high probability in helical structures. The energies required to create and destroy physical pseudo-knots can differ by at least one order of magnitude. Together with their localized nature this makes them controllable, opening the possibility for a wide range of applications in material science, nano- and biotechnology. Physical pseudo-knots can also have implications in living systems, that may use them, or try to avoid them and hence be related to disease.

Graphical abstract: Pseudo-knots in helical structures

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Article information

13 Dec 2007
22 Jan 2008
First published
12 Feb 2008

Soft Matter, 2008,4, 731-734
Article type

Pseudo-knots in helical structures

F. Vistulo de Abreu, R. G. Dias and C. von Ferber, Soft Matter, 2008, 4, 731
DOI: 10.1039/B719234G

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