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We directly visualize single polymers with persistence lengths ranging from lp = 0:05 to 16 µm, dissolved in the nematic phase of rod-like fd virus. Polymers with sufficiently large persistence length undergo a coil-rod transition at the isotropic-nematic transition of the background solvent. We quantitatively analyze the transverse fluctuations of semi-flexible polymers and show that at long wavelengths they are driven by the fluctuating nematic background. We extract both the Odijk deflection length and the elastic constant of the background nematic phase from the data.
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Erratum DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.93.219902
Date Posted: 30 July 2007
This document has been peer reviewed.