Helix formation in the polymer brush

Mark Kastantin, Matthew Tirrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This work considers the physics of a brush formed by polymers capable of undergoing a helix-coil transition. A self-consistent field approximation for strongly stretched polymer chains is used in combination with a lattice model of the interaction energy in helix-coil mixtures. Crowding-induced chain stretching stabilizes helix formation at moderate tethering densities while high tethering density causes sufficiently strong stretching to unravel segments of the helix, resulting in distinct layers of monomer density and helical content. Compared to a random-coil brush at low-to-moderate tethering density, a helicogenic brush is less resistant to compression in the direction perpendicular to stretching due to easy alignment of helices and fewer unfavorable interactions between helical segments. At higher tethering density, the above-mentioned stretch-induced decrease in helical content resists further compression. The proposed model is useful for understanding an emerging class of biomaterials that utilize helix-forming polymer brushes to induce shape changes or to stabilize biofunctional helical peptide sequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4977-4987
Number of pages11
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 28 2011
Externally publishedYes


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