In a new study, scientists used a combination of theory, experiment, and simulation to read patterns on long chains of molecules to understand and predict the behavior of disordered strands of proteins and polymers. The work offers detailed insights on the physics behind the precise sequence of charged monomers along the chain and how it affects the polymer’s ability to create self-assembling liquid materials called complex coacervates.
The study was conducted by the team of researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The theory for this work was provided by the lab of Charles Sing, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Illinois, and then verified through experiments conducted in the lab of Sarah Perry, assistant professor of chemical engineering at UMass Amherst, and Illinois alumni.
Sing said, “The thing that I think is exciting about this work is that we’re taking inspiration from a biological system. The typical picture of a protein shows that it folds into a very precise structure. This system, however, is based around intrinsically disordered proteins.”