2020 Impact factor 1.890
Soft Matter and Biological Physics
Eur. Phys. J. E 10, 191-197 (2003)
DOI: 10.1140/epje/e2003-00023-0

Osmotic force resisting chain insertion in a colloidal suspension

M. Castelnovo, R.K. Bowles, H. Reiss and W.M. Gelbart

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA


(Received 18 December 2002 Published online: 16 April 2003 )

We consider the problem of inserting a stiff chain into a colloidal suspension of particles that interact with it through excluded volume forces. The free energy of insertion is associated with the work of creating a cavity devoid of colloid and sufficiently large to accommodate the chain. The corresponding work per unit length is the force that resists the entry of the chain into the colloidal suspension. In the case of a hard sphere fluid, this work can be calculated straightforwardly within the scaled particle theory; for solutions of flexible polymers, on the other hand, we employ simple scaling arguments. The forces computed in these ways are shown, for nanometer chain and colloid diameters, to be of the order of tens of pN for solution volume fractions of a few tenths. These magnitudes are argued to be important for biophysical processes such as the ejection of DNA from viral capsids into the cell cytoplasm.

82.35.Pq - Biopolymers, biopolymerization.
82.60.Qr - Thermodynamics of nanoparticles.
82.70.Dd - Colloids.

© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica, Springer-Verlag 2003