Can adding oil control domain formation in binary amphiphile bilayers?

Martin J. Greenall*, Carlos M. Marques

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Bilayers formed of two species of amphiphile of different chain lengths may segregate into thinner and thicker domains composed predominantly of the respective species. Using a coarse-grained mean-field model, we investigate how mixing oil with the amphiphiles affects the structure and thickness of the bilayer at and on either side of the boundary between two neighbouring domains. In particular, we find that oil molecules whose chain length is close to that of the shorter amphiphiles segregate to the thicker domain. This smooths the surface of the hydrophobic bilayer core on this side of the boundary, reducing its area and curvature and their associated free-energy penalties. The smoothing effect is weaker for oil molecules that are shorter or longer than this optimum value: short molecules spread evenly through the bilayer, while long molecules swell the thicker domain, increasing the surface area and curvature of the bilayer core in the interfacial region. Our results show that adding an appropriate oil could make the formation of domain boundaries more or less favourable, raising the possibility of controlling the domain size distribution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7925-7931
Number of pages7
JournalSoft Matter
Volume10
Issue number40
Early online date25 Jul 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2014

Keywords

  • LATERAL PHASE-SEPARATION
  • CONSISTENT-FIELD THEORY
  • BLOCK-COPOLYMERS
  • LIPID-BILAYERS
  • BIOLOGICAL-MEMBRANES
  • MODEL MEMBRANES
  • LINE TENSION
  • VESICLES
  • MIXTURES
  • MICELLES

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