A mechanical model of bacteriophage DNA ejection

Rahul Arun, Sandip Ghosal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Single molecule experiments on bacteriophages show an exponential scaling for the dependence of mobility on the length of DNA within the capsid. It has been suggested that this could be due to the “capstan mechanism” – the exponential amplification of friction forces that result when a rope is wound around a cylinder as in a ship's capstan. Here we describe a desktop experiment that illustrates the effect. Though our model phage is a million times larger, it exhibits the same scaling observed in single molecule experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2386-2390
Number of pages5
JournalPhysics Letters, Section A: General, Atomic and Solid State Physics
Issue number30
StatePublished - Aug 13 2017


  • Bacteriophage
  • Capstan model
  • Cell mechanics
  • Coulomb–Amonton law
  • DNA translocation
  • Nanoscale friction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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