Alumnus Pyie Phyo Aung ’12 and Mark Taylor, associate professor of physics (along with German collaborator Wolfgang Paul) have recently published an article, entitled “Partition function zeros and phase transitions for a square-well polymer chain”, in the journal Physical Review E (vol. 88, article 012604, 2013).
Aung and Taylor began collaborating on the research in summer 2011. Part of the research became Aung’s senior seminar project. He is now a graduate student in physics at the University of Akron.
This published article introduces a new method to analyze conformational or shape transitions of polymer chains. The approach combines state of the art computer simulation techniques, to construct the polymer partition function, with a formal mathematical analysis of the distribution of the roots of this function in the complex plane. Chain conformation is an important factor controlling both the physical properties of polymeric materials and the functionality of biopolymers. The recent work of Taylor and his students (funded by the National Science Foundation) has focused on developing both models and methods to analyze conformational transitions in single macromolecules. A full text version of this article is available online.
Another research paper by Taylor and his collaborators Wolfgang Paul and Kurt Binder, entitled “Applications of the Wang-Landau algorithm to phase transitions of a single polymer chain” has recently been published in the journal Polymer Science, Series C (Vol. 55, pp. 23-38, 2013). This article reviews the new computer simulation techniques originally developed by Taylor on his 2008-2009 sabbatical stay in Mainz, Germany, and presents a number of new applications of the approach. Development of these computer simulation techniques along with new methods of statistical mechanical analysis (such as partition function zeros) to a variety of polymer systems is the subject of the new 3-year research grant from the National Science Foundation awarded to Taylor last year. A full text version of this article is available online.