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 IU Trident Indiana University

Rewriting the Laws of Physics for Nanoworld 

PI: Peter Ortoleva, Distinguished Professor and Director, Center for Cell and Virus Theory

High Performance Systems, Systems Group, UITS Research Technologies - Research made possible via Big Red II

CCMV Virus
Figure 1. Cutaway of the computational model for the virus CCMV. Such models are being used to understand self-assembly, structural transitions, and anomalous oscillations in nanoparticles. 

A nanosystem at equilibrium can display quasiperiodic structural oscillations, seemingly in contradiction to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. These structural oscillations have been seen in some virus-like particles using traditional molecular dynamics, or the multiscale methods developed at CCVT, which are being used with terahertz spectroscopy to test the theory for virus-like nanoparticles.

Computational models such as the model for the virus CCMV, shown in Figure 1 below, are being used to understand self-assembly, structural transitions, and anomalous oscillations in nanoparticles.

Researchers at the Center for Cell and Virus Theory (CCVT) showed that a nanosystem at equilibrium can display quasiperiodic structural oscillations. This at first seems to contradict the Second Law of Thermodynamics. However the Second Law was deduced from observations on macrosystems, and implies that there is no perpetual motion for a macroscopic system in contact with an environment at constant temperature. These structural oscillations are also anomalous since the amplitude decreases with temperature, in contrast to the classic  amplitude dependence on absolute temperature T implied by traditional statistical physics. Thus far, the structural oscillations have been seen in some virus-like particles using traditional molecular dynamics, or the multiscale methods developed at CCVT using IU’s cyberinfrastructure. This work is being done in collaboration with Prof. E. Brown in the Department of Physics and Electrical Engineering at Wright State University, using terahertz spectroscopy to test the theory for virus-like nanoparticles as part of a project supported by the NSF INSPIRE program. 

NSF GSS Codes:

Primary Field: Microbiology, Immunology, and Virology (611) 

Secondary Field: Computer Science (401) Computer Systems Analysis