We use pruned-enriched Rosenbluth method simulations to develop a quantitative phase diagram for the stretching of a real wormlike chain confined in a slit. Our simulations confirm the existence of a "confined Pincus" regime in slit confinement, analogous to the Pincus regime in free solution, where excluded volume effects are sensible. The lower bound for the confined Pincus regime in the force-molecular weight plane, as well as the scaling of the extension with force and slit size, agree with an existing scaling theory for this regime. The upper bound of the confined Pincus regime depends on the strength of the confinement. For strong confinement, the confined Pincus regime ends when the contour length in the Pincus blob is too short to have intrablob excluded volume. As a result, the chain statistics become ideal and the confined Pincus regime at low forces is connected directly to ideal chain stretching at large forces. In contrast, for weak confinement, the confined Pincus regime ends when the Pincus blobs no longer fit inside the slit, even though there is sufficient contour length to have excluded volume inside the Pincus blob. As a result, weak confinement leads to a free-solution Pincus regime intervening between the confined Pincus regime for weak forces and ideal chain stretching at strong forces. Our results highlight shortcomings in existing models for the stretching of wormlike chains in slits.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (Grant No. CBET-1262286). Computational resources were provided in part by the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute at the University of Minnesota.
© 2016 AIP Publishing LLC.
Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.