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Thüroff, Florian; Obermayer, Benedikt; Frey, Erwin (February 2011): Longitudinal response of confined semiflexible polymers. In: Physical Review E, Vol. 83, No. 2: 021802-1-021802-16




The longitudinal response of single semiflexible polymers to sudden changes in externally applied forces is known to be controlled by the propagation and relaxation of backbone tension. Under many experimental circumstances, realized, for example, in nanofluidic devices or in polymeric networks or solutions, these polymers are effectively confined in a channel-or tubelike geometry. By means of heuristic scaling laws and rigorous analytical theory, we analyze the tension dynamics of confined semiflexible polymers for various generic experimental setups. It turns out that in contrast to the well-known linear response, the influence of confinement on the nonlinear dynamics can largely be described as that of an effective prestress. We also study the free relaxation of an initially confined chain, finding a surprising superlinear similar to t(9/8) growth law for the change in end-to-end distance at short times.