Polymer Translocation: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Polymer Translocation

1st Edition

By M. Muthukumar

CRC Press

372 pages | 148 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781420075168
pub: 2011-05-16
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Polymer translocation occurs in many biological and biotechnological phenomena where electrically charged polymer molecules move through narrow spaces in crowded environments. Unraveling the rich phenomenology of polymer translocation requires a grasp of modern concepts of polymer physics and polyelectrolyte behavior. Polymer Translocation discusses universal features of polymer translocations and summarizes the key concepts of polyelectrolyte structures, electrolyte solutions, ionic flow, mobility of charged macromolecules, polymer capture by pores, and threading of macromolecules through pores.

With approximately 150 illustrations and 850 equations, the book:

  • Avoids heavy mathematics
  • Uses examples to illustrate the richness of the phenomenon
  • Introduces the entropic barrier idea behind polymer translocation
  • Outlines conceptual components necessary for a molecular understanding of polymer translocation
  • Provides mathematical formulas for the various quantities pertinent to polymer translocation

The challenge in understanding the complex behavior of translocation of polyelectrolyte molecules arises from three long-range forces due to chain connectivity, electrostatic interactions, and hydrodynamic interactions. Polymer Translocation provides an overview of fundamentals, established experimental facts, and important concepts necessary to understand polymer translocation. Readers will gain detailed strategies for applying these concepts and formulas to the design of new experiments.


Muthukumar’s book meticulously builds on well-presented fundamental polymer physics in order to be able to provide a firm theoretical basis for understanding the physics of translocation … a well-thought out book, superbly written, and thus bound to remain a standard in the field.

—Journal of Biological Physics, September 2012

I like very much the way theoretical ideas are presented and compared with experiments. I think this book will be a valuable source of information for anyone investigating polymer transport processes.

—Professor Anatoly B. Kolomeisky, Rice University

Muthu’s incisive work beautifully clarifies the issues in polymer translocation. He offers cogent explanations of several experimental phenomena and indicates where our reasoning remains murky.

—Hagan Bayley, Professor of Chemical Biology, University of Oxford, UK

It is a truly outstanding book! The author has covered a surprisingly broad range of physical questions that refer to both polymers and ion channels. The contents quickly but carefully ascend from the beautifully presented basics up to … advanced theoretical treatments. This book is a must read for everyone who wants to get a steadfast grip over the physics of channel-facilitated polymer transport.

—Sergey M. Bezrukov, Ph.D., Senior Investigator and Section Chief, NICHD, National Institutes of Health

Table of Contents

General Premise

Biological contexts

Single-molecule experiments


Entropic barrier idea

Physics of translocation


Size, Shape, and Structure of Macromolecules

Measures of polymer conformations

Universal behavior

Excluded volume interaction

Coarse-grained models of chain connectivity

Chain swelling by excluded volume effect

Coil-globule transition

Concentration effects


Electrolyte Solutions, Interfaces, and Geometric Objects

Electrolyte solutions

Charged interfaces


Flexible and Semiflexible Polyelectrolytes


Experimental results

Simulation results

Electrostatic swelling with fixed polymer charge

Self-regularization of polymer charge

Concentration effects


Confinement, Entropic Barrier, and Free Energy Landscape

Hole in a wall

Spherical cavities

Cylindrical pores

Infinitely wide channels


Random Walks, Brownian Motion, and Drift

Biased random walk

Brownian motion and Langevin equation

Fokker-Planck-Smoluchowski equation

Collection of Brownian particles

Equilibrium versus steady state

Finite boundaries and first passage time

Properties of drift-diffusion process


Polyelectrolyte Dynamics

Solvent continuum and hydrodynamic interaction

Uncharged polymer

Diffusion of polyelectrolyte chains

Electrophoretic mobility

Coil-stretch under flow


Ion Flow in Single Pores

A general scenario


Steady state without diffusion

Steady state with drift and diffusion

Effect of barriers

Ionic current through protein pores

Fluctuations in ionic current

Electroosmotic flow (EOF)


Polymer Capture

Representative experimental results

General considerations

Diffusion-limited capture

Drift-limited regime

Effect of convective flow

Polymer capture with electroosmotic flow

Effect of barriers on capture rate


Translocation Kinetics: Nucleation and Threading

Representative experimental results

Insights from simulations

Theory of translocation kinetics

Comparison between experimental data and theory


Further Issues

Non-equilibrium conformations during threading

Amplification of chemical details

Biological examples


Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Physics
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Textiles & Polymers