Kinetics of Diffusion and Convection in 3.2-Å Pores: Exact Solution by Computer Simulation

David G. Levitt

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38 Scopus citations


The kinetics of transport in pores the size postulated for cell membranes has been investigated by direct computer simulation (molecular dynamics). The simulated pore is 11 Å long and 3.2 Å in radius, and the water molecules are modeled by hard, smooth spheres, 1 Å in radius. The balls are given an initial set of positions and velocities (with an average temperature of 313° K) and the computer then calculates their exact paths through the pore. Two different conditions were used at the ends of the pore. In one, the ends are closed and the balls are completely isolated. In the other, the ball density in each end region is fixed so that a pressure difference can be established and a net convective flow produced. The following values were directly measured in the simulated experiments: net and diffusive (oneway) flux; pressure, temperature, and diffusion coefficients in the pore; area available for diffusion; probability distribution of ball positions in the pore; and the interaction between diffusion and convection. The density, viscosity, and diffusion coefficients in the bulk fluid were determined from the theory of hard sphere dense gases. From these values, the “equivalent” pore radius (determined by the same procedure that is used for cell membranes) was computed and compared with the physical pore radius of the simulated pore.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-206
Number of pages21
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1973
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I wish to thank Dr. N. Lifson and Dr. T. A. Wilson for their helpful comments and advice. Computer time was funded by a grant from the University of Minnesota Computer Center. Receivedforpublication 12 May 1972 andin revisedform 22 September 1972.


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