Theory of the center-of-mass diffusion and viscosity of microstructured and variable sequence copolymer liquids

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Biomolecular condensates formed through the phase separation of proteins and nucleic acids are widely observed, offering a fundamental means of organizing intracellular materials in a membrane-less fashion. Traditionally, these condensates have been regarded as homogeneous isotropic liquids. However, in analogy with some synthetic copolymer systems, our recent theoretical research has demonstrated that model biomolecular condensates can exhibit a microemulsion-like internal structure, contingent upon the specific sequence, inter-chain site–site interactions, and concentrated phase polymer density. Motivated by these considerations, here we present a microscopic dynamical theory for the self-diffusion constant and viscosity of a simpler class of model systems – concentrated unentangled A/B regular multiblock copolymer solutions. Our approach integrates static equilibrium local and microdomain scale structural information obtained from PRISM integral equation theory and the time evolution of the autocorrelation function of monomer scale forces at the center-of-mass level to determine the polymer diffusion constant and viscosity in a weak caging regime far from a glass or gel transition. We focus on regular multi-block systems both for simplicity and for its relevance to synthetic macromolecular science. The impact of sequence and inter-chain attraction strength on the slowing down of copolymer mass transport and flow due to local clustering enhanced collisional friction and emergent microdomain scale ordering are established. Analytic analysis and metrics employed in the study of biomolecular condensates are employed to identify key order parameters that quantity how attractive forces, packing structure, multiblock sequence, and copolymer density determine dynamical slowing down above and below the crossover to a fluctuating polymeric microemulsion state.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8893-8910
Number of pages18
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number45
Early online dateNov 2 2023
StatePublished - Nov 2 2023


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