Comprehensive analysis of compositional interface fluctuations in planar lipid bilayer membranes

Tao Han, Mikko Haataja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In this paper we present a comprehensive analysis of line tension-driven compositional interface fluctuations in planar lipid bilayer membranes. Our starting point is the advective Cahn-Hilliard equation for the local lipid composition in symmetric membranes, which explicitly incorporates both advective and diffusive lipid transport processes, and which is coupled to the continuum hydrodynamic equations governing the flow behavior of the membrane and surrounding solvent with finite subphase thickness. In order to extract the interface dynamics from the continuum phase-field formalism, we first derive the appropriate sharp-interface limit equations. We then carry out a linear perturbation analysis for the relaxational dynamics of small-amplitude sinusoidal interface fluctuations to yield the general dispersion relation ωk as a function of perturbation wave number k. The resulting expression incorporates the effects of diffusive and advective lipid transport processes within the membrane, viscous or viscoelastic membrane properties, coupling between membrane and solvent, and inertial effects within the membrane and solvent. It is shown that previously considered scenarios naturally emerge as limiting cases of the general result. Furthermore, we discuss two additional scenarios amenable to analysis, one in which the inertia of the solvent is relevant, and another one in which the membrane displays significant viscoelastic properties. Finally, we numerically evaluate the general dispersion relation for three representative model membrane systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number051903
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 8 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


Dive into the research topics of 'Comprehensive analysis of compositional interface fluctuations in planar lipid bilayer membranes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this