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Issue 17, 2012
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Co-existence of gel and fluid lipid domains in single-component phospholipid membranes

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Abstract

Lateral nanostructures in membranes, so-called rafts, are believed to strongly influence membrane properties and functions. The experimental observation of rafts has proven difficult as they are thought to be dynamic structures that likely fluctuate on nano- to microsecond time scales. Using neutron diffraction we present direct experimental evidence for the co-existence of gel and fluid lipid domains in a single-component phospholipid membrane made of DPPC as it undergoes its main phase transition. The coherence length of the neutron beam sets a lower limit for the size of structures that can be observed. Neutron coherence lengths between 30 and 242 Å used in this study were obtained by varying the incident neutron energy and the resolution of the neutron spectrometer. We observe Bragg peaks corresponding to co-existing nanometer sized structures, both in out-of-plane and in-plane scans, by tuning the neutron coherence length. During the main phase transition, instead of a continuous transition that shows a pseudo-critical behavior, we observe the co-existence of gel and fluid domains.

Graphical abstract: Co-existence of gel and fluid lipid domains in single-component phospholipid membranes

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Publication details

The article was received on 11 Nov 2011, accepted on 21 Feb 2012 and first published on 09 Mar 2012


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C2SM07158D
Citation: Soft Matter, 2012,8, 4687-4694
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    Co-existence of gel and fluid lipid domains in single-component phospholipid membranes

    C. L. Armstrong, M. A. Barrett, L. Toppozini, N. Kučerka, Z. Yamani, J. Katsaras, G. Fragneto and M. C. Rheinstädter, Soft Matter, 2012, 8, 4687
    DOI: 10.1039/C2SM07158D

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