We analyze the nonequilibrium dynamics of single inextensible semiflexible biopolymers as stretching forces are applied at the ends. Based on different (contradicting) heuristic arguments, various scaling laws have been proposed for the propagation speed of the backbone tension which is induced in response to stretching. Here, we employ a newly developed unified theory to systematically substantiate, restrict, and extend these approaches. Introducing the practically relevant scenario of a chain equilibrated under some prestretching force fpre that is suddenly exposed to a different external force fext at the ends, we give a concise physical explanation of the underlying relaxation processes by means of an intuitive blob picture. We discuss the corresponding intermediate asymptotics, derive results for experimentally relevant observables, and support our conclusions by numerical solutions of the coarse-grained equations of motion for the tension.
61.41.+e Polymers, elastomers, and plastics 87.15.La Biological and medical physics: Mechanical properties 87.15.He Dynamics and conformational changes