A Study of the Morphology, Dynamics, and Folding Pathways of Ring Polymers with Supramolecular Topological Constraints Using Molecular Simulation and Nonlinear Manifold Learning

Jiang Wang, Andrew L. Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Ring polymers are prevalent in natural and engineered systems, including circular bacterial DNA, crown ethers for cation chelation, and mechanical nanoswitches. The morphology and dynamics of ring polymers are governed by the chemistry and degree of polymerization of the ring and intramolecular and supramolecular topological constraints such as knots or mechanically interlocked rings. In this study, we perform molecular dynamics simulations of polyethylene ring polymers at two different degrees of polymerization and in different topological states, including a trefoil knot, catenane state (two interlocked rings), and Borromean state (three interlocked rings). We employ nonlinear manifold learning to extract the low-dimensional free energy surface to which the structure and dynamics of the polymer chain are effectively restrained. The free energy surfaces reveal how the degree of polymerization and topological constraints affect the thermally accessible conformations, chiral symmetry breaking, and folding and collapse pathways of the rings and present a means to rationally engineer ring size and topology to stabilize particular conformational states and folding pathways. We compute the rotational diffusion of the ring in these various states as a crucial property required for the design of engineered devices containing ring polymer components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)598-616
Number of pages19
JournalMacromolecules
Volume51
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 23 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry

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