Issue 19, 2024

A passive star polymer in a dense active bath: insights from computer simulations

Abstract

Using computer simulations in two dimensions (2D), we explore the structure and dynamics of a star polymer with three arms made of passive monomers immersed in a bath of active Brownian particles (ABPs). We analyze the conformational and dynamical changes of the polymer as a function of activity and packing fraction. We also study the process of motility induced phase separation (MIPS) in the presence of a star polymer, which acts as a mobile nucleation center. The presence of the polymer increases the growth rate of the clusters in comparison to a bath without the polymer. In particular, for low packing fraction, both nucleation and cluster growth are affected by the inclusion of the star polymer. Clusters grow in the vicinity of the star polymer, resulting in the star polymer experiencing a caged motion similar to a tagged ABP in the dense phase. Due to the topological constraints of the star polymers and clustering nearby, the conformational changes of the star polymer lead to interesting observations. Inter alia, we observe the shrinking of the arm with increasing activity along with a short-lived hairpin structure of one arm formed. We also see the transient pairing of two arms of the star polymer, while the third is largely separated at high activity. We hope our findings will help in understanding the behavior of active–passive mixtures, including biopolymers of complex topology in dense active suspensions.

Graphical abstract: A passive star polymer in a dense active bath: insights from computer simulations

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
Paper
Submitted
30 Jan 2024
Accepted
07 Apr 2024
First published
08 Apr 2024

Soft Matter, 2024,20, 3910-3922

A passive star polymer in a dense active bath: insights from computer simulations

R. S. Yadav, S. Sharma, R. Metzler and R. Chakrabarti, Soft Matter, 2024, 20, 3910 DOI: 10.1039/D4SM00144C

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