• A. Tagliabue, C. Micheletti and M. Mella
    Tuning Knotted Copolyelectrolyte Conformations via Solution Properties
    Macromolecules, 2022,
    Link to online article

  • Abstract
    We used Langevin dynamics simulations to study coarse-grained knotted copolyelectrolytes, composed by a neutral and a charged segment, in solutions of different salt concentrations, valency, and solvent screening power. We show that the facile variation of these parameters allows for tuning the length and position of the knotted region, which in turn controls the overall metric properties. Specifically, adding either monovalent or divalent ions causes the knot to swell at the expense of the copolyelectrolyte overall size. However, the knot typically straddles the charged‚ąíneutral interface in the presence of monovalent counterions, whereas it is attracted on the charged segment with divalent ones. Notably, similar modulations of knot size and position can also be achieved by varying the dielectric constant of the solvent. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of harnessing the solution-mediated balance of electrostatics and conformational entropy toward a facile external tuning of the conformational properties of knotted polymers.