Isotropic-Helicoidal Transition of Semiflexible Polymers Confined to a Spherical Surface
A semiflexible polymer confined to a spherical surface is used as a basic model for understanding DNA conformation in restricted space. By means of Monte Carlo simulation for a bead-rod chain generated on a spherical surface, we find an ordered helicoidal phase at sufficiently high surface density and determine the critical density of the isotropic-helicoidal phase transition for various persistence lengths. We verify that the excluded volume effect is the key factor to cause the helicoidal state. In addition to Monte Carlo simulations, we utilize the model of wormlike chain with Onsager's excluded volume interaction and examine the Landau expansion of the free energy involving both the orientational and spatial order parameters. We also analytically figure out the critical density and transition gap for various ratios of persistence lengths of the polymer chain and the radius of spherical surface. The results from both simulation and analysis are consistent with each other.