Identification of a polymer growth process with an equilibrium multicritical collapse phase transition: the meeting point of swollen, collapsed, and crystalline polymers.

Research paper by Jason J Doukas, Aleksander L AL Owczarek, Thomas T Prellberg

Indexed on: 15 Jan '11Published on: 15 Jan '11Published in: Physical review. E, Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics


We have investigated a polymer growth process on the triangular lattice where the configurations produced are self-avoiding trails. We show that the scaling behavior of this process is similar to the analogous process on the square lattice. However, while the square lattice process maps to the collapse transition of the canonical interacting self-avoiding trail (ISAT) model on that lattice, the process on the triangular lattice model does not map to the canonical equilibrium model. On the other hand, we show that the collapse transition of the canonical ISAT model on the triangular lattice behaves in a way reminiscent of the θ point of the interacting self-avoiding walk (ISAW) model, which is the standard model of polymer collapse. This implies an unusual lattice dependency of the ISAT collapse transition in two dimensions. By studying an extended ISAT model, we demonstrate that the growth process maps to a multicritical point in a larger parameter space. In this extended parameter space the collapse phase transition may be either θ-point-like (second order) or first order, and these two are separated by a multicritical point. It is this multicritical point to which the growth process maps. Furthermore, we provide evidence that in addition to the high-temperature gaslike swollen polymer phase (coil) and the low-temperature liquid-drop-like collapse phase (globule) there is also a maximally dense crystal-like phase (crystal) at low temperatures dependent on the parameter values. The multicritical point is the meeting point of these three phases. Our hypothesized phase diagram resolves the mystery of the seemingly differing behaviors of the ISAW and ISAT models in two dimensions as well as the behavior of the trail growth process.