Matching Items (23)

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Rescaled Coarse-Grained Potentials for Maximum Timestep in Simulation of Polyethylene

Description

In order to better understand the physical properties of polyethylene, an extremely common plastic used mostly in packaging, many scientists and engineers use olecular dynamics. To reduce the computational expense

In order to better understand the physical properties of polyethylene, an extremely common plastic used mostly in packaging, many scientists and engineers use olecular dynamics. To reduce the computational expense associated with traditional atomistic molecular dynamics, coarse-grained molecular dynamics is often used. Coarse-grained molecular dynamics groups multiple atoms into single beads, reducing the number of degrees of freedom in a system and eliminating smaller atoms with faster kinematics. However, even coarse-grained methods have their limitations, one of which is timestep duration, which is limited by the maximum vibrational frequency in the coarse-grained system. To study this limitation, a coarse-grained model of polyethylene was created such that every C 2 H 4 unit was replaced with a bead. Coarse-grained potentials for bond-stretching, bond-bending, and non-bonded interaction were generated using the iterative Boltzmann inversion method, which matches coarse-grained distribution functions to atomistic distribution functions. After the creation of the model, the coarse-grained potentials were rescaled by a constant so that they were less stiff, decreasing the maximum vibrational frequency of the system. It is found that by diminishing the bond-stretching potential to 6.25% of its original value, the maximum stable timestep can be increased 85% over that of the unmodified potential functions. The results of this work suggest that it may be possible to simulate lengthy processes, such as the crystallization of polyethylene, in less time with adjusted coarse-grained potentials. Additionally, the large discrepancies in the speed of bond-stretching, bond-bending, and non- bonded interaction dynamics suggest that a multi-timestep method may be worth investigating in future work.

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Date Created
  • 2015-12

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Computational Study of Ionic Liquids for Low Temperature MET Sensors

Description

Ionic liquids are salts with low melting temperatures that maintain their liquid form below 100 °C, or even at ambient temperature. Ionic liquids are conductive, electrochemically stable, non-volatile, and have

Ionic liquids are salts with low melting temperatures that maintain their liquid form below 100 °C, or even at ambient temperature. Ionic liquids are conductive, electrochemically stable, non-volatile, and have a low vapor pressure, making them a class of excellent candidate materials for electrolytes in energy storage, electrodeposition, batteries, fuel cells, and supercapacitors. Due to their multiple advantages, the use of ionic liquids on Earth has been widely studied; however, further research must be done before their implementation in space. The extreme temperatures encountered during space travel and extra-terrestrial deployment have the potential to greatly affect the liquid electrolyte system. Examples of low temperature planetary bodies are the permanently shadowed sections of the moon or icy surfaces of Jupiter’s moons. Recent studies have explored the limits of glass transition temperatures for ionic liquid systems. The project is centered around the development of an ionic liquid system for a molecular electronic transducer seismometer that would be deployed on the low temperature system of Europa. For this project, molecular dynamics simulations used input intermolecular and intramolecular parameters that then simulated molecular interactions. Molecular dynamics simulations are based around the statistical mechanics of chemistry and help calculate equilibrium properties that are not easily calculated by hand. These simulations will give insight into what interactions are significant inside a ionic liquid solution. The simulations aim to create an understanding how ionic liquid electrolyte systems function at a molecular level. With this knowledge one can tune their system and its contents to adapt the systems properties to fit all environments the seismometers will experience.

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Date Created
  • 2020-05

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Properties of Disordered Regions of Proteins in RNA Granules

Description

RNA granules are assemblies of RNA and proteins inside cells that serve multiple roles and functions. Some of the functions they serve in include a variety of organelles such as

RNA granules are assemblies of RNA and proteins inside cells that serve multiple roles and functions. Some of the functions they serve in include a variety of organelles such as germ cell P granules, stress granules, and neuronal granules with diverse functions. Intrinsically disordered domains are abundant in the proteins responsible for RNA granules, and they have been attributed to the formation and degradation of RNA granules through a liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) process. LLPS is typically a reversible process where a homogenous fluid de- mixes into two distinct liquid phases. Here, 47 RNA granule proteins with such disordered regions have been surveyed. These proteins have been simulated using coarse-grained molecular simulations to determine size dependence on temperature change. Upper critical solution temperature (UCST) and lower critical solution temperature (LCST) are phase behaviors that can be calculated using the data gathered for scaling and phase behaviors of these proteins. We discovered that less charged amino acid contents are present in RNA granules in comparison to general disordered sequences. This is in line with the observation that charged amino acids are less preferred for the sequence to phase separate at physiological-relevant temperatures. More interestingly, there seems to be an even mix of sequences contributing to both UCST, LCST, and no phase behaviors and the average temperature dependent behaviors of all these proteins have a relatively weak temperature dependence within the temperature range 300 and 325K. The average suggest that these proteins might collectively contribute to RNA granules in a way that adapts to small temperature fluctuations.

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Date Created
  • 2020-05

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Predicting Dimensions of Intrinsically Disordered Proteins

Description

In recent years, experimental and theoretical evidence has pointed to the existence of biologically active proteins that either include unstructured regions or are entirely unstructured. Referred to as intrinsically

In recent years, experimental and theoretical evidence has pointed to the existence of biologically active proteins that either include unstructured regions or are entirely unstructured. Referred to as intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs), they are now known to be involved in diverse functions, much as any folded protein. Mutations in IDPs have been implicated in multiple neurodegenerative diseases. Considering the disordered nature of IDPs, there are limited structure features that can be used to quantify the disordered state. One such pair of variables are the radius of gyration (Rg) and the corresponding Flory’s scaling exponent, both of which characterize the dimension and size of the protein. It is generally understood that the sequence of an IDP affects its Rg and scaling exponent. Properties such as amino acid hydrophobicity and charge can play important roles in determining the Rg of an IDP, much as they affect the structure of a folded protein. However, it is nontrivial to directly predict Rg and scaling exponent from an IDP sequence. In this thesis, a coarse-grained model is used to simulate the Rg and scaling exponents of 10,000 randomly generated sequences mimicking the amino acid propensities of a typical IDP sequence. Such a database is then fed into an artificial neural network model to directly predict the scaling exponent from the sequence. The framework has not only made accurate and precise predictions (<1% error) in comparing to the simulation-obtained scaling exponent, but also suggest important sequence descriptors for such prediction. In addition, through varying the number of sequences for training the model, we suggest a minimum dataset of 100 sequences might be sufficient to achieve a 5% error of prediction, shedding light upon possible predictive models with only experimental inputs.

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Date Created
  • 2019-05

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Simulation of Atomic Structure around Defects in Anatase

Description

Titanium dioxide is an essential material under research for energy and environmental applications, chiefly through its photocatalytic properties. These properties allow it to be used for water-splitting, detoxification, and

Titanium dioxide is an essential material under research for energy and environmental applications, chiefly through its photocatalytic properties. These properties allow it to be used for water-splitting, detoxification, and photovoltaics, in addition to its conventional uses in pigmentation and sunscreen. Titanium dioxide exists in several polymorphic structures, of which the most common are rutile and anatase. We focused on anatase for the purposes of this research, due to its promising results for hydrolysis.

Anatase exists often in its reduced form (TiO2-x), enabling it to perform redox reactions through the absorption and release of oxygen into/from the crystal lattice. These processes result in structural changes, induced by defects in the material, which can theoretically be observed using advanced characterization methods. In situ electron microscopy is one of such methods, and can provide a window into these structural changes. However, in order to interpret the structural evolution caused by defects in materials, it is often necessary and pertinent to use atomistic simulations to compare the experimental images with models.

In this thesis project, we modeled the defect structures in anatase, around oxygen vacancies and at surfaces, using molecular dynamics, benchmarked with density functional theory. Using a “reactive” forcefield designed for the simulation of interactions between anatase and water that can model and treat bonding through the use of bond orders, different vacancy structures were analyzed and simulated. To compare these theoretical, generated models with experimental data, the “multislice approach” to TEM image simulation was used. We investigated a series of different vacancy configurations and surfaces and generated fingerprints for comparison with TEM experiments. This comparison demonstrated a proof of concept for a technique suggesting the possibility for the identification of oxygen vacancy structures directly from TEM images. This research aims to improve our atomic-level understanding of oxide materials, by providing a methodology for the analysis of vacancy formation from very subtle phenomena in TEM images.

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Date Created
  • 2019-05

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Allosteric Modulation and Structural Determination of G-Protein Coupled Receptors

Description

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are known to be modulated by membrane cholesterol levels, but whether or not the effects are caused by specific receptor-cholesterol interactions or cholesterol’s general effects on

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are known to be modulated by membrane cholesterol levels, but whether or not the effects are caused by specific receptor-cholesterol interactions or cholesterol’s general effects on the membrane is not well-understood. Results from coarse-grained molecular dynamics (CGMD) simulations coupled and structural bioinformatics offer new insights into how cholesterol modulates GPCR function by showing cholesterol interactions with β2AR that agree with previously published data. Additionally, differential and specific cholesterol binding in the CCK receptor subfamily was observed while revealing a previously unreported Cholesterol Recognition Amino-acid Consensus (CRAC) sequence that is also conserved across 38% of class A GPCRs. Mutation of this conserved CRAC sequence of the β2AR affects cholesterol stabilization of the receptor in a lipid bilayer. Serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) with X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs) has proven highly successful for structure determination of challenging membrane proteins crystallized in lipidic cubic phase, however, as most techniques, it has limitations. Using an optimized SFX experimental setup in a helium atmosphere we determined the room temperature structure of the adenosine A2A receptor (A2AAR) at 2.0 Å resolution and compared it with previous A2AAR structures determined in vacuum and/or at cryogenic temperatures. Specifically, we demonstrated the capability of utilizing high XFEL beam transmissions, in conjunction with a high dynamic range detector, to collect high-resolution SFX data while reducing crystalline material consumption and shortening the collection time required for a complete data set.
The results of these studies provide a better understanding of receptor-cholesterol interactions that can contribute to novel and improved therapeutics for a variety of diseases. Furthermore, the experimental setups presented herein can be applied to future molecular dynamics and SFX applications for protein nanocrystal samples to aid in structure-based discovery efforts of therapeutic targets that are difficult to crystallize.

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Date Created
  • 2020

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Multiresolution Coarse-Grained Modeling of the Microstructure and Mechanical Properties of Polyurea Elastomer

Description

Polyurea is a highly versatile material used in coatings and armor systems to protect against extreme conditions such as ballistic impact, cavitation erosion, and blast loading. However, the relationships between

Polyurea is a highly versatile material used in coatings and armor systems to protect against extreme conditions such as ballistic impact, cavitation erosion, and blast loading. However, the relationships between microstructurally-dependent deformation mechanisms and the mechanical properties of polyurea are not yet fully understood, especially under extreme conditions. In this work, multi-scale coarse-grained models are developed to probe molecular dynamics across the wide range of time and length scales that these fundamental deformation mechanisms operate. In the first of these models, a high-resolution coarse-grained model of polyurea is developed, where similar to united-atom models, hydrogen atoms are modeled implicitly. This model was trained using a modified iterative Boltzmann inversion method that dramatically reduces the number of iterations required. Coarse-grained simulations using this model demonstrate that multiblock systems evolve to form a more interconnected hard phase, compared to the more interrupted hard phase composed of distinct ribbon-shaped domains found in diblock systems. Next, a reactive coarse-grained model is developed to simulate the influence of the difference in time scales for step-growth polymerization and phase segregation in polyurea. Analysis of the simulated cured polyurea systems reveals that more rapid reaction rates produce a smaller diameter ligaments in the gyroidal hard phase as well as increased covalent bonding connecting the hard domain ligaments as evidenced by a larger fraction of bridging segments and larger mean radius of gyration of the copolymer chains. The effect that these processing-induced structural variations have on the mechanical properties of the polymer was tested by simulating uniaxial compression, which revealed that the higher degree of hard domain connectivity leads to a 20% increase in the flow stress. A hierarchical multiresolution framework is proposed to fully link coarse-grained molecular simulations across a broader range of time scales, in which a family of coarse-grained models are developed. The models are connected using an incremental reverse–mapping scheme allowing for long time scale dynamics simulated at a highly coarsened resolution to be passed all the way to an atomistic representation.

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Date Created
  • 2020

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Study of interface adhesive properties of wurtzite materials for carbon fiber composites

Description

Recently, the use of zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowires as an interphase in composite materials has been demonstrated to increase the interfacial shear strength between carbon fiber and an epoxy matrix.

Recently, the use of zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowires as an interphase in composite materials has been demonstrated to increase the interfacial shear strength between carbon fiber and an epoxy matrix. In this research work, the strong adhesion between ZnO and carbon fiber is investigated to elucidate the interactions at the interface that result in high interfacial strength. First, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are performed to calculate the adhesive energy between bare carbon and ZnO. Since the carbon fiber surface has oxygen functional groups, these were modeled and MD simulations showed the preference of ketones to strongly interact with ZnO, however, this was not observed in the case of hydroxyls and carboxylic acid. It was also found that the ketone molecules ability to change orientation facilitated the interactions with the ZnO surface. Experimentally, the atomic force microscope (AFM) was used to measure the adhesive energy between ZnO and carbon through a liftoff test by employing highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) substrate and a ZnO covered AFM tip. Oxygen functionalization of the HOPG surface shows the increase of adhesive energy. Additionally, the surface of ZnO was modified to hold a negative charge, which demonstrated an increase in the adhesive energy. This increase in adhesion resulted from increased induction forces given the relatively high polarizability of HOPG and the preservation of the charge on ZnO surface. It was found that the additional negative charge can be preserved on the ZnO surface because there is an energy barrier since carbon and ZnO form a Schottky contact. Other materials with the same ionic properties of ZnO but with higher polarizability also demonstrated good adhesion to carbon. This result substantiates that their induced interaction can be facilitated not only by the polarizability of carbon but by any of the materials at the interface. The versatility to modify the magnitude of the induced interaction between carbon and an ionic material provides a new route to create interfaces with controlled interfacial strength.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Self-assembly at ionic liquid-based interfaces: fundamentals and applications

Description

Liquid-liquid interfaces serve as ideal 2-D templates on which solid particles can self-assemble into various structures. These self-assembly processes are important in fabrication of micron-sized devices and emulsion formulation. At

Liquid-liquid interfaces serve as ideal 2-D templates on which solid particles can self-assemble into various structures. These self-assembly processes are important in fabrication of micron-sized devices and emulsion formulation. At oil/water interfaces, these structures can range from close-packed aggregates to ordered lattices. By incorporating an ionic liquid (IL) at the interface, new self-assembly phenomena emerge. ILs are ionic compounds that are liquid at room temperature (essentially molten salts at ambient conditions) that have remarkable properties such as negligible volatility and high chemical stability and can be optimized for nearly any application. The nature of IL-fluid interfaces has not yet been studied in depth. Consequently, the corresponding self-assembly phenomena have not yet been explored. We demonstrate how the unique molecular nature of ILs allows for new self-assembly phenomena to take place at their interfaces. These phenomena include droplet bridging (the self-assembly of both particles and emulsion droplets), spontaneous particle transport through the liquid-liquid interface, and various gelation behaviors. In droplet bridging, self-assembled monolayers of particles effectively "glue" emulsion droplets to one another, allowing the droplets to self-assembly into large networks. With particle transport, it is experimentally demonstrated the ILs overcome the strong adhesive nature of the liquid-liquid interface and extract solid particles from the bulk phase without the aid of external forces. These phenomena are quantified and corresponding mechanisms are proposed. The experimental investigations are supported by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, which allow for a molecular view of the self-assembly process. In particular, we show that particle self-assembly depends primarily on the surface chemistry of the particles and the non-IL fluid at the interface. Free energy calculations show that the attractive forces between nanoparticles and the liquid-liquid interface are unusually long-ranged, due to capillary waves. Furthermore, IL cations can exhibit molecular ordering at the IL-oil interface, resulting in a slight residual charge at this interface. We also explore the transient IL-IL interface, revealing molecular interactions responsible for the unusually slow mixing dynamics between two ILs. This dissertation, therefore, contributes to both experimental and theoretical understanding of particle self-assembly at IL based interfaces.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Solving the mechanism of Na+/H+ antiporters using molecular dynamics simulations

Description

Na+/H+ antiporters are vital membrane proteins for cell homeostasis, transporting Na+ ions in exchange for H+ across the lipid bilayer. In humans, dysfunction of these transporters are implicated in hypertension,

Na+/H+ antiporters are vital membrane proteins for cell homeostasis, transporting Na+ ions in exchange for H+ across the lipid bilayer. In humans, dysfunction of these transporters are implicated in hypertension, heart failure, epilepsy, and autism, making them well-established drug targets. Although experimental structures for bacterial homologs of the human Na+/H+ have been obtained, the detailed mechanism for ion transport is still not well-understood. The most well-studied of these transporters, Escherichia coli NhaA, known to transport 2 H+ for every Na+ extruded, was recently shown to bind H+ and Na+ at the same binding site, for which the two ion species compete. Using molecular dynamics simulations, the work presented in this dissertation shows that Na+ binding disrupts a previously-unidentified salt bridge between two conserved residues, suggesting that one of these residues, Lys300, may participate directly in transport of H+. This work also demonstrates that the conformational change required for ion translocation in a homolog of NhaA, Thermus thermophilus NapA, thought by some to involve only small helical movements at the ion binding site, is a large-scale, rigid-body movement of the core domain relative to the dimerization domain. This elevator-like transport mechanism translates a bound Na+ up to 10 Å across the membrane. These findings constitute a major shift in the prevailing thought on the mechanism of these transporters, and serve as an exciting launchpad for new developments toward understanding that mechanism in detail.

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Date Created
  • 2016