Polymer-chain configurations in active and passive baths

The configurations taken by polymers embedded in out-of-equilibrium baths may have broad implications in a variety of biological systems. As such, they have attracted considerable interest, particularly in simulation studies. Here we analyze the distribution of configurations taken by a passive flexible chain in a bath of hard, self-propelled, vibrated disks and systematically compare it to that of the same flexible chain in a bath of hard, thermal-like, vibrated disks. We demonstrate experimentally that the mean length and mean radius of gyration of both chains agree with Flory’s law. However, the Kuhn length associated with the number of correlated monomers is smaller in the case of the active bath, corresponding to a higher effective temperature. Importantly, the active bath does not just simply map on a hot equilibrium bath. Close examination of the chains’ configurations indicates a marked bias, with the chain in the active bath more likely assuming configurations with a single prominent bend.


Volume: 106 / Issue: 6 / Article Number: 064606
Published: DEC 2022
By: Caleb J. Anderson, Guillaume Briand, Olivier Dauchot, Alberto Fernández-Nieves



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