Ring Polymers: Threadings, Knot Electrophoresis and Topological Glasses

D Michieletto and D Marenduzzo and E Orlandini and MS Turner, POLYMERS, 9, 349 (2017).

DOI: 10.3390/polym9080349

Elucidating the physics of a concentrated suspension of ring polymers, or of an ensemble of ring polymers in a complex environment, is an important outstanding question in polymer physics. Many of the characteristic features of these systems arise due to topological interactions between polymers, or between the polymers and the environment, and it is often challenging to describe this quantitatively. Here we review recent research which suggests that a key role is played by inter-ring threadings (or penetrations), which become more abundant as the ring size increases. As we discuss, the physical consequences of such threadings are far-reaching: for instance, they lead to a topologically-driven glassy behaviour of ring polymer melts under pinning perturbations, while they can also account for the shape of experimentally observed patterns in two-dimensional gel electrophoresis of DNA knots.

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