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Proceedings Paper

Transitions in model membranes
Author(s): J. C. Earnshaw; P. J. Winch
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Paper Abstract

The complexity of the biomembrane is such that simpler physicochemical systems have long been used as models for physical investigations. One aspect of these systems which has considerable relevance in the biological milieu is their phase transitions, as it is known that biomembranes tend to adapt to the ambient conditions so as to maintain themselves in a transitional state. In particular it is thought that domains of phase separated lipid exist in real biomembranes, probably in a state of dynamic formation and dissolution1. Because of this biological relevance, as well as because of their intrinsic interest, much attention has been paid to the phase transitions of simple model membrane systems. One such system, in which the transitions have been apparently exhaustively studied, is a monomolecular layer of amphiphilic molecules at the water-air interface. A vast body of work, both experimental and theoretical, on the transitions of monolayers was cast into doubt by the demonstration2 that, at least in certain cases, if the amphiphiles were of adequate purity the transitions were simple first-order in nature. While this finding has been disputed, the fact remains that in the few studies where adequate (> 99.9%) levels of purity were achieved this result has been confirmed3'4. While quasi-elastic light scattering has been used as a technique to study monolayers there have been few, if any, studies on such pure material3. We have therefore undertaken a study of monolayers of pentadecanoic acid (PDA) , which has come to be regarded as the fundamental test material, much as silicon is the archetypal semiconductor.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 May 1991
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 1403, Laser Applications in Life Sciences, (1 May 1991); doi: 10.1117/12.57299
Show Author Affiliations
J. C. Earnshaw, Queen's Univ. of Belfast (United Kingdom)
P. J. Winch, Queen's Univ. of Belfast (United Kingdom)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1403:
Laser Applications in Life Sciences

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