Calculation and Visualization of Atomistic Mechanical Stresses in Nanomaterials and Biomolecules

AT Fenley and HS Muddana and MK Gilson, PLOS ONE, 9, e113119 (2014).

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113119

Many biomolecules have machine-like functions, and accordingly are discussed in terms of mechanical properties like force and motion. However, the concept of stress, a mechanical property that is of fundamental importance in the study of macroscopic mechanics, is not commonly applied in the biomolecular context. We anticipate that microscopical stress analyses of biomolecules and nanomaterials will provide useful mechanistic insights and help guide molecular design. To enable such applications, we have developed Calculator of Atomistic Mechanical Stress (CAMS), an open-source software package for computing atomic resolution stresses from molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The software also enables decomposition of stress into contributions from bonded, nonbonded and Generalized Born potential terms. CAMS reads GROMACS topology and trajectory files, which are easily generated from AMBER files as well; and time-varying stresses may be animated and visualized in the VMD viewer. Here, we review relevant theory and present illustrative applications.

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