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Resolving critical degrees of entanglement in Olympic ring systems


Olympic systems are collections of small ring polymers whose aggregate properties are largely characterized by the extent (or absence) of topological linking in contrast with the topological entanglement arising from physical movement constraints associated with excluded volume contacts or arising from chemical bonds. First, discussed by de Gennes, they have been of interest ever since due to their particular properties and their occurrence in natural organisms, for example, as intermediates in the replication of circular DNA in the mitochondria of malignant cells or in the kinetoplast DNA networks of trypanosomes. Here, we study systems that have an intrinsic one, two, or three-dimensional character and consist of large collections of ring polymers modeled using periodic boundary conditions. We identify and discuss the evolution of the dimensional character of the large scale topological linking as a function of density. We identify the critical densities at which infinite linked subsystems, the onset of percolation, arise in the periodic boundary condition systems. These provide insight into the nature of entanglement occurring in such course grained models. This entanglement is measured using Gauss linking number, a measure well adapted to such models. We show that, with increasing density, the topological entanglement of these systems increases in complexity, dimension, and probability.

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