A helical polymer with a cooperative response to chiral information

Mark M. Green, Norman C. Peterson, Takahiro Sato, Akio Teramoto, Robert Cook, Shneior Lifson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Polyisocyanates, long studied as theoretical models for wormlike chains in dilute solution and liquid crystals, differ from their biological helical analogs in the absence of a pre-determined helical sense. These polymers have an unusual sensitivity to chiral effects that arises from a structure in which alternating right- and left-handed long helical blocks are separated by infrequent and mobile helical reversals. Statistical thermodynamic methods yield an exact description of the polymer and the cooperative nature of its chiral properties. Minute energies that favor one of the helical senses drive easily measurable conformational changes, even though such energies may be extremely difficult to calculate from structural theory. In addition, the chiral nature of the polymer can be used to test theoretical ideas concerned with cholesteric liquid crystals, one of which solves the problem of assigning the helical sense.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1860-1866
Number of pages7
Issue number5219
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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