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Elasticity-based polymer sorting in active fluids: a Brownian dynamics study

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Shin, J., Cherstvy, A. G., Kim, W. K., & Zaburdaev, V. (2017). Elasticity-based polymer sorting in active fluids: a Brownian dynamics study. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 19(28), 18338-18347. doi:10.1039/c7cp02947k.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-F097-F
While the dynamics of polymer chains in equilibrium media is well understood by now, the polymer dynamics in active non-equilibrium environments can be very different. Here we study the dynamics of polymers in a viscous medium containing self-propelled particles in two dimensions by using Brownian dynamics simulations. We find that the polymer center of mass exhibits a superdiffusive motion at short to intermediate times and the motion turns normal at long times, but with a greatly enhanced diffusivity. Interestingly, the long time diffusivity shows a non-monotonic behavior as a function of chain length and stiffness. We analyze how the polymer conformation and the accumulation of self-propelled particles, and therefore the directed motion of the polymer, are correlated. At the point of maximal polymer diffusivity, the polymer has preferentially bent conformations maintained by the balance between the chain elasticity and the propelling force generated by the active particles. We also consider the barrier crossing dynamics of actively-driven polymers in a double-well potential. The barrier crossing times are demonstrated to have a peculiar non-monotonic dependence, related to that of the diffusivity. This effect can be potentially utilized for sorting polymers from solutions in in vitro experiments.