Hydrodynamic radius

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The hydrodynamic radius of a macromolecule or colloid particle has two meanings. Some books use it as a synonym for the Stokes radius. [1]

Others books define a theoretical hydrodynamic radius R_{\rm hyd}. They consider the macromolecule or colloid particle to be a collection of N subparticles. This is done most commonly for polymers; the subparticles would then be the units of the polymer. R_{\rm hyd} is defined by

\frac{1}{R_{\rm hyd}} \ \stackrel{\mathrm{def}}{=}\  \frac{1}{N^{2}} \left\langle \sum_{i \neq j} \frac{1}{r_{ij}} \right\rangle

where r_{ij} is the distance between subparticles i and j, and where the angular brackets \langle \ldots \rangle represent an ensemble average. [2] The theoretical hydrodynamic radius R_{\rm hyd} was originally an estimate by John Gamble Kirkwood of the Stokes radius of a polymer.

The theoretical hydrodynamic radius R_{\rm hyd} arises in the study of the dynamic properties of polymers moving in a solvent. It is often similar in magnitude to the radius of gyration.


  1. ^ Gert R. Strobl (1996). The Physics of Polymers Concepts for Understanding Their Structures and Behavior. Springer-Verlag. ISBN 3-540-60768-4.  Section 6.4 page 290.
  2. ^ J. Des Cloizeaux and G. Jannink (1990). Polymers in Solution Their Modelling and Structure. Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-852036-0.  Chapter 10, Section 7.4, pages 415-417.


Grosberg AY and Khokhlov AR. (1994) Statistical Physics of Macromolecules (translated by Atanov YA), AIP Press. ISBN 1-56396-071-0