Forces on an attractive surface generated from a thermoresponsive polymer gel
Journal article, 2014
Interaction between polymers and soft-matter surfaces in the biological cell is a common yet incompletely understood phenomenon. This work investigates a generic situation where a thermoresponsive polymer gel is placed in the vicinity of an adsorbing surface, and starts contracting. The force is mediated by polymer chains that partially attach to the surface and partially to the contracting gel. The main goal was to understand how the force generated by the transforming polymer gel depends on key parameters that describe the system, most importantly, the concentration of the polymer, the length of the force-mediating polymer, and the the distance between the surface and the outer border of the contracting polymer gel. The key result of the paper is the Laplace transform (with regard to the polymer length) of the pulling force expression. Analytical approximations for the force have been obtained, and the exact expression for the pulling force is presented for the situation when the gel starts contracting. In depth analysis of the force behavior revealed several phases adopted by the polymer during the gel contraction.
Green's function method