Phase transitions of a single polyelectrolyte in a poor solvent with explicit counterions

A Varghese and S Vemparala and R Rajesh, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 135, 154902 (2011).

DOI: 10.1063/1.3653378

Conformational properties of a single flexible polyelectrolyte chain in a poor solvent are studied using constant temperature molecular dynamics simulation. The effects of counterions are explicitly taken in to account. Structural properties of various phases and the transition between these phases are studied by tracking the values of asphericity, radius of gyration, fraction of condensed counterions, number of non- bonded neighbours, and Coulomb interaction energies. From our simulations, we find strong evidence for a first-order phase transition from extended to collapsed phase consistent with earlier theoretical predictions. We also identify a continuous phase transition associated with the condensation of counterions and estimate the critical exponents associated with the transition. Finally, we argue that previous suggestions of existence of an independent intermediate phase between extended and collapsed phases is only a finite size effect. (C) 2011 American Institute of Physics. doi:10.1063/1.3653378

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