Shape of a Stretched Polymer

AS Sassi and S Assenza and P De Los Rios, PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS, 119, 037801 (2017).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.037801

The shape of a polymer plays an important role in its interactions with surrounding molecules. We characterize the shape and the orientational properties of a polymer chain under tension in a good solvent, a physical condition that is often realized both in single-molecule experiments and in vivo. Our findings reveal the existence of hitherto unobserved universal laws encompassing polymers with different rigidities and including the possible presence of excluded-volume effects, showing that both shape and orientation are solely determined by the force contribution to the free energy. In doing so, they also provide a simple way to retrieve these quantities from the knowledge of the force-versus-extension curve.

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