An iterative method for hydrodynamic interactions in Brownian dynamics simulations of polymer dynamics

Linling Miao, Charles D. Young, Charles E. Sing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brownian Dynamics (BD) simulations are a standard tool for understanding the dynamics of polymers in and out of equilibrium. Quantitative comparison can be made to rheological measurements of dilute polymer solutions, as well as direct visual observations of fluorescently labeled DNA. The primary computational challenge with BD is the expensive calculation of hydrodynamic interactions (HI), which are necessary to capture physically realistic dynamics. The full HI calculation, performed via a Cholesky decomposition every time step, scales with the length of the polymer as O(N3). This limits the calculation to a few hundred simulated particles. A number of approximations in the literature can lower this scaling to O(N2 - N2.25), and explicit solvent methods scale as O(N); however both incur a significant constant per-time step computational cost. Despite this progress, there remains a need for new or alternative methods of calculating hydrodynamic interactions; large polymer chains or semidilute polymer solutions remain computationally expensive. In this paper, we introduce an alternative method for calculating approximate hydrodynamic interactions. Our method relies on an iterative scheme to establish self-consistency between a hydrodynamic matrix that is averaged over simulation and the hydrodynamic matrix used to run the simulation. Comparison to standard BD simulation and polymer theory results demonstrates that this method quantitatively captures both equilibrium and steady-state dynamics after only a few iterations. The use of an averaged hydrodynamic matrix allows the computationally expensive Brownian noise calculation to be performed infrequently, so that it is no longer the bottleneck of the simulation calculations. We also investigate limitations of this conformational averaging approach in ring polymers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number024904
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 14 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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