Sequence dependence of critical properties for two-letter chains

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Abstract

Histogram-reweighting grand canonical Monte Carlo simulations are used to obtain the critical properties of lattice chains composed of solvophilic and solvophobic monomers. The model is a modification of one proposed by Larson et al. [J. Chem. Phys. 83, 2411 (1985)], lowering the “contrast” between beads of different types to prevent aggregation into finite-size micelles that would mask true phase separation between bulk high- and low-density phases. Oligomeric chains of lengths between 5 and 24 beads are studied. Mixed-field finite-size scaling methods are used to obtain the critical properties with typical relative accuracies of better than 10−4 for the critical temperature and 10−3 for the critical volume fraction. Diblock chains are found to have lower critical temperatures and volume fractions relative to the corresponding homopolymers. The addition of solvophilic blocks of increasing length to a fixed-length solvophobic segment results in a decrease of both the critical temperature and the critical volume fraction, with an eventual slow asymptotic approach to the long-chain limiting behavior. Moving a single solvophobic or solvophilic bead along a chain leads to a minimum or maximum in the critical temperature, with no change in the critical volume fraction. Chains of identical length and composition have a significant spread in their critical properties, depending on their precise sequence. The present study has implications for understanding biomolecular phase separation and for developing design rules for synthetic polymers with specific phase separation properties. It also provides data potentially useful for the further development of theoretical models for polymer and surfactant phase behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number234902
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Volume160
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 21 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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