Date of this Version
Physical Review Letters
The importance of nonlinearities in material constitutive relations has long been appreciated in the continuum mechanics of macroscopic rods. Although the moment (torque) response to bending is almost universally linear for small deflection angles, many rod systems exhibit a high-curvature softening. The signature behavior of these rod systems is a kinking transition in which the bending is localized. Recent DNA cyclization experiments by Cloutier and Widom have offered evidence that the linear-elastic bending theory fails to describe the high-curvature mechanics of DNA. Motivated by this recent experimental work, we develop a simple and exact theory of the statistical mechanics of linear-elastic polymer chains that can undergo a kinking transition. We characterize the kinking behavior with a single parameter and show that the resulting theory reproduces both the low-curvature linear-elastic behavior which is already well described by the wormlike chain model, as well as the high-curvature softening observed in recent cyclization experiments.
Wiggins, P. A., Phillips, R., & Nelson, P. C. (2005). Exact Theory of Kinkable Elastic Polymers. Physical Review Letters, 72 (2), 1-19. http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevE.71.021909
Date Posted: 07 April 2017
This document has been peer reviewed.