The unbinding dynamics of a nanosized sphere-and-cavity assembly under the pulling of constant force and constant loading rate is explored by dissipative particle dynamics simulations. The formation of this matched lock-and-key pair in a polymer solution is driven by the depletion attraction. The two-dimensional free energy landscape U(x,z) associated with this assembly is constructed. Our results indicate that the unbinding pathway along the orientation of the assembly is unfavorable due to the relatively high energy barrier compared to that along the tortuous minimum path whose energy barrier is not high. It is also found that the dissociation rate depends on the direction of the external force (θ) with respect to the assembly orientation. The presence of the force component perpendicular to the assembly orientation can reduce the bond lifetime significantly by driving the key particle to approach the minimum path. Moreover, the dissociation dynamics can be facilitated even by a pushing force compared to the spontaneous dissociation (without forces). To elucidate the effective pathway under pulling, the escaping position is analyzed and its mean direction with respect to the assembly orientation rises generally with increasing θ, revealing that the presence of the force component along the minimum pathway is helpful. The importance of the direction of the external pulling has been demonstrated in our simple system. Therefore, this effect should be considered in more complicated unbinding experiments.
|Journal||Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics|
|State||Published - 26 Sep 2017|