Multicomponent lipid bilayer membranes display rich phase transition and associated compositional lipid domain formation behavior. When both leaflets of the bilayer contain domains, they are often found co-localized across the leaflets, implying the presence of a thermodynamic interleaflet coupling. In this work, it is demonstrated that fluctuation-induced interactions between domains embedded within opposing membrane leaflets provide a robust means to co-localize the domains. In particular, it is shown via a combination of a mode-counting argument, a perturbative calculation, and a non-perturbative treatment of a special case, that spatial variations in membrane bending rigidity associated with lipid domains embedded within the background phase always lead to an attractive interleaflet coupling with a magnitude of ∼0.01kBT/nm2 in simple model membrane systems. Finally, it is demonstrated that the fluctuation-induced coupling is very robust against membrane tension and substrate interactions.
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