Conformation of Ring Polymers in 2D Constrained Environments
The combination of ring closure and spatial constraints has a fundamental effect on the statistics of semiflexible polymers such as DNA. However, studies of the interplay between circularity and constraints are scarce and single-molecule experimental data concerning polymer conformations are missing. By means of atomic force microscopy we probe the conformation of circular DNA molecules in two dimensions and in the concentrated regime (above the overlap concentration c*). Molecules in this regime experience a collapse, and their statistical properties agree very well with those of simulated vesicles under pressure. Some circular molecules also create confining regions in which other molecules are trapped. Thus we show further that spatially confined molecules fold into specific conformations close to those found for linear chains, and strongly dependent on the size of the confining box.