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Scaling law and universal drop size distribution of coarsening in conversion-limited phase separation

  • Lee, CF
Publication Date
Oct 21, 2021
UPCommons. Portal del coneixement obert de la UPC
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Phase separation is not only ubiquitous in diverse physical systems, but also plays an important organizational role inside biological cells. However, experimental studies of intracellular condensates (drops with condensed concentrations of specific collections of proteins and nucleic acids) have challenged the standard coarsening theories of phase separation. Specifically, the coarsening rates observed are unexpectedly slow for many intracellular condensates. Recently, Folkmann et al. [Science 373, 1218 (2021)] argued that the slow coarsening rate can be caused by the slow conversion of a condensate constituent between the state in the dilute phase and the condensate state. One implication of this conversion-limited picture is that standard theories of coarsening in phase separation (Lifshitz-Slyozov-Wagner theory of Ostwald ripening and drop coalescence schemes) no longer apply. Surprisingly, I show here that the model equations of conversion-limited phase separation can instead be mapped onto a grain growth model in a single-phase material in three dimensions. I further elucidate the universal coarsening behavior in the late stage using analytical and numerical methods.

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