Fractional Hoppinglike Motion in Columnar Mesophases of Semiflexible Rodlike Particles

S Naderi and E Pouget and P Ballesta and P van der Schoot and MP Lettinga and E Grelet, PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS, 111, 037801 (2013).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.111.037801

We report on single-particle dynamics of strongly interacting filamentous fd virus particles in the liquid-crystalline columnar state in aqueous solution. From fluorescence microscopy, we find that rare, discrete events take place, in which individual particles engage in sudden, jumplike motion along the main rod axis. The jump length distribution is bimodal and centered at half- and full-particle lengths. Our Brownian dynamics simulations of hard semiflexible particles mimic our experiments and indicate that full-length jumps must be due to collective dynamics in which particles move in stringlike fashion in and between neighboring columns, while half jumps arise as a result of particles moving into defects. We find that the finite domain structure of the columnar phase strongly influences the observed dynamics.

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