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From self-assembly to engines: Simulating the nanoscale D. C. Rapaport, Bar-Ilan University
 

Summary: From self-assembly to engines: Simulating the nanoscale
D. C. Rapaport, Bar-Ilan University
Two fascinating phenomena are discussed from a molecular dynamics perspective. The first involves
supramolecular self-assembly, namely, the formation of the exquisitely designed protein capsids of
spherical viruses. New insights into the assembly mechanisms have emerged from simulations
carried out using simplified particles immersed in an explicit solvent. Contrary to expectation,
assembly proceeds via a cascade of strongly reversible steps, a feature that ensures that growth-
impeding kinetic traps are avoided; furthermore, despite the large variety of possible intermediate
structures, assembly pathways visit only a small fraction of the most highly bonded forms. The
second is the Stirling engine, an external combustion engine with a history dating back to the
industrial revolution. The model considered here employs a working fluid with a mere few hundred
atoms; it is found to be capable of stable operation, and shares the characteristics of a real engine
while producing net work at a respectable level of efficiency.

  

Source: Adler, Joan - Physics Department, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology

 

Collections: Physics