Lattice stretching bistability and dynamic heterogeneity

Peter Leth Christiansen, A. V. Savin, A. V. Zolotaryuk

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A simple one-dimensional lattice model is suggested to describe the experimentally observed plateau in force-stretching diagrams for some macromolecules. This chain model involves the nearest-neighbor interaction of a Morse-like potential (required to have a saturation branch) and a harmonic second-neighbor coupling. Under an external stretching applied to the chain ends, the intersite Morse-like potential results in the appearance of a double-well potential within each chain monomer, whereas the interaction between the second neighbors provides a homogeneous bistable (degenerate) ground state, at least within a certain part of the chain. As a result, different conformational changes occur in the chain under the external forcing. The transition regions between these conformations are described as topological solitons. With a strong second-neighbor interaction, the solitons describe the transition between the bistable ground states. However, the key point of the model is the appearance of a heterogenous structure, when the second-neighbor coupling is sufficiently weak. In this case, a part of the chain has short bonds with a single-well potential, whereas the complementary part admits strongly stretched bonds with a double-well potential. This case allows us to explain the existence of a plateau in the force-extension diagram for DNA and α-helix protein. Finally, the soliton dynamics are studied in detail.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)046601
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

Copyright (2012) American Physical Society.

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