Force spectroscopy of polymer desorption: theory and molecular dynamics simulations
Forced detachment of a single polymer chain, strongly adsorbed on a solid substrate, is investigated by two complementary methods: a coarse-grained analytical dynamical model, based on the Onsager stochastic equation, and Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations with a Langevin thermostat. The suggested approach makes it possible to go beyond the limitations of the conventional Bell–Evans model. We observe a series of characteristic force spikes when the pulling force is measured against the cantilever displacement during detachment at constant velocity vc (displacement control mode) and find that the average magnitude of this force increases as vc increases. The probability distributions of the pulling force and the end-monomer distance from the surface at the moment of the final detachment are investigated for different adsorption energies ε and pulling velocities vc. Our extensive MD simulations validate and support the main theoretical findings. Moreover, the simulations reveal a novel behavior: for a strong-friction and massive cantilever the force spike pattern is smeared out at large vc. As a challenging task for experimental bio-polymer sequencing in future we suggest the fabrication of a stiff, super-light, nanometer-sized AFM probe.