Unscrambling the effects of shape and stiffness in persistence of heteropolymers

15 February 2018

A polymer, or microscopic elastic filament, is often modelled as a linear chain of rigid bodies interacting both with themselves and a heat bath. Then the classic notions of persistence length are related to how certain correlations decay with separation along the chain. I will introduce these standard notions in mathematical terms suitable for non specialists, and describe the standard results that apply in the simplest cases of wormlike chain models that have a straight, minimum energy (or ground or intrinsic) shape. Then I will introduce an appropriate  splitting of a matrix recursion in the group SE(3) which deconvolves the distinct effects of stiffness and intrinsic shape in the more complicated behaviours of correlations that arise when the polymer is not intrinsically straight. The new theory will be illustrated by fully implementing it within a simple sequence-dependent rigid base pair model of DNA. In that particular context, the persistence matrix factorisation generalises and justifies the prior scalar notions of static and dynamic persistence lengths.

  • Industrial and Applied Mathematics Seminar