We study the effects of two kinds of interactions in tubelike polymers and demonstrate that they result in the formation of secondary motifs. The first has an entropic origin and is a measure of the effective space available to the solvent. The second arises from solvophobic interactions of the solvent with the polymers and leads to an energy proportional to the contact surface between the tube and solvent particles. The solvent molecules are modeled as hard spheres and the two interactions are considered separately with the solvent density affecting their relative strength. In addition to analytical calculations, we present the results of numerical simulations in order to understand the role played by the finite length of short polymers and the discrete versus continuum descriptions of the system in determining the preferred conformation.
- Received 7 December 2007
©2008 American Physical Society