Soft Materials and Biomaterials under Pressure
Soft-matter macromolecular assemblies include proteins; biomembranes; surfactant, lipid, and block-copolymer mesophases; cellular cytoskeletal networks; and other large-molecule assemblies found in living systems. These systems generally differ from small-molecule systems in that the molecules have many “parts”, each of which may have a huge number of conformational substates. The free energies of different substates often differ only slightly, even though the 3-dimensional molecular structures may differ greatly. A dramatic example is the two substate ensembles represented by a protein in its native and unfolded states. Unfolding may occur with only modest changes in environmental conditions (e.g., temperature, solvent conditions) and with extremely small transition enthalpies. Despite the small energy change, the structures, and, more importantly, functionality of the folded and unfolded protein could hardly be more different.
KeywordsPermeability Surfactant Anisotropy Hydrate Enthalpy
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