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Eur Phys J E Soft Matter. 2004 May;14(1):17-34.

Stretching of semiflexible polymers with elastic bonds.

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Max-Planck-Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, 14424 Potsdam, Germany.


A semiflexible harmonic chain model with extensible bonds is introduced and applied to the stretching of semiflexible polymers or filaments. The semiflexible harmonic chain model allows to study effects from bending rigidity, bond extension, discrete chain structure, and finite length of a semiflexible polymer in a unified manner. The interplay between bond extension and external force can be described by an effective inextensible chain with increased stretching force, which leads to apparently reduced persistence lengths in force-extension relations. We obtain force-extension relations for strong- and weak-stretching regimes which include the effects of extensible bonds, discrete chain structure, and finite polymer length. We discuss the associated characteristic force scales and calculate the crossover behaviour of the force-extension curves. Strong stretching is governed by the discrete chain structure and the bond extensibility. The linear response for weak stretching depends on the relative size of the contour length and the persistence length which affects the behaviour of very rigid filaments such as F-actin. The results for the force-extension relations are corroborated by transfer matrix and variational calculations.


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