The influence of curvature on domain distribution in binary mixture membranes†
Curvature-induced domain sorting, a strategy exploited by cells to organize membrane components, is a promising mechanism to control self-assembly of materials. To understand this phenomenon, this work explores the effects of curvature on component rearrangement in thin polymer films and lipid bilayers supported on sinusoidal substrates. Specifically, self-consistent field theory (SCFT) was used to study the spatial distribution of polymers in blends containing conformationally asymmetric chains. In addition, coarse-grained molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were used to probe the arrangement of rigid lipid domains in a relatively soft lipid matrix. Besides the expected preference of rigid species localizing in regions with low mean curvature, both systems exhibit unexpected localization of rigid components in comparatively high curvature regions. The origins of this unexpected sorting are discussed in terms of entropic and enthalpic contributions. In summary, this study demonstrates that domain distribution strongly depends on local topography and further highlights the collective effects that thermodynamic forces have on the morphological behavior of membranes.