Phase segregation in bio-inspired multi-component vesicles encompassing double tail phospholipid species†
Our aim is to investigate the phase segregation and the structure of multi-component bio-inspired phospholipid vesicles via dissipative particle dynamics. The chemical distinction in the phospholipid species arises due to different head and tail group moieties, and molecular stiffness of the hydrocarbon tails. The individual amphiphilic phospholipid molecular species are represented by a hydrophilic head group and two hydrophobic tails. The distinct chemical nature of the moieties is modeled effectively via soft repulsive interaction parameters, and the molecular rigidity is tuned via suitable three-body potential constants. We demonstrate the formation of a stable hybrid vesicle through the self-assembly of the amphiphilic phospholipid molecules in the presence of a hydrophilic solvent. We investigate and characterize the phase segregation and the structure of the binary vesicles for different phospholipid mixtures. Our results demonstrate macroscopic phase separation for phospholipid mixtures composed of species with different hydrocarbon tail groups. We also investigate the relationship between the phase segregation and thermodynamic variables such as interfacial line tension and surface tension, and obtain correspondence between existing theory and experiments, and our simulation results. We report variations in the molecular chain stiffness to have negligible contributions to the phase segregation in the mixed bilayer, and to demonstrate shape transformations of the hybrid vesicle. Our results can be used to design novel bio-inspired hybrid vehicles for potential applications in biomedicine, sensing, imaging and sustainability.