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Chapter 16

Mesoscopic Non-equilibrium Thermodynamics in Biology

This chapter deals with applications of mesoscopic non-equilibrium thermodynamics to biological systems, in particular to the study of kinetic processes and energy transduction mechanisms that take place in biological systems. The inherent non-linear nature of these processes makes it necessary to put the non-equilibrium thermodynamics method into a broader scope. We will show that by going to the mesoscale domain, the limitation of only providing linear laws can be removed and non-linear kinetic laws, characteristic of biochemical processes, can be obtained. We exemplify the case of enzyme catalysis through the Michaelis–Menten mechanism, and we consider energy transduction in proteins and the stretching of DNA molecules in detail. Mesososcopic non-equilibrium thermodynamics provides a general framework for the study of small-scale biological systems that operate far from equilibrium.

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16 Oct 2015
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