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Soft Matter and Biological Physics

Eur. Phys. J. E 1, 237-248

Inclusions induced phase separation in mixed lipid film

P. Sens - S.A. Safran

Department of Materials and Interfaces, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel

Received 8 April 1999 and Received in final form 4 October 1999

The effect of rigid inclusions on the phase behavior of a film containing a mixture of lipid molecules is investigated. In the proposed model, the inclusion-induced deformation of the film, and the resulting energy cost are strongly dependent upon the spontaneous curvature of the mixed film. The spontaneous curvature is in turn strongly influenced by the composition of film. This coupling between the film composition and the energy per inclusion leads to a lateral modulation of the composition, which follows the local curvature of the membrane. In particular, it is shown that inclusions may induce a global phase separation in a film which would otherwise be homogeneously mixed. The mixed film is then composed of patches of different average composition, separated by the inclusions. This process may be of relevance to explain some aspects of lipid-protein association in biological membranes.

87.16.Dg Membranes, bilayers, and vesicles - 64.75.+g Solubility, segregation, and mixing; phase separation - 82.65.Dp Thermodynamics of surfaces and interfaces

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