Giant vesicles at the prolate-oblate transition: A macroscopic bistable system
Max-Planck-Institut für Kolloid-und Grenzflächenforschung,
Kantstraße 55, 14513 Teltow-Seehof, Germany
2 Department of Physics, University of British Columbia, 6224 Agriculture Road, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 2A6
Accepted: 20 September 1996
Giant phospholipid vesicles are shown to exhibit thermally activated transitions between a prolate and an oblate shape on a time scale of several seconds. From the fluctuating contour of such a vesicle we extract ellipticity as an effective reaction coordinate whose temporal probability distribution is bimodal. We then reconstruct the effective potential from which we derive an activation energy of the order of in agreement with theoretical calculations. The dynamics of this transition is well described within a Kramers model of overdamped diffusion in a bistable potential. Thus, this system can serve as a model for macroscopic bistability.
PACS: 05.40.+j – Fluctuation phenomena, random processes, and Brownian motion / 68.15.+e – Liquid thin films / 82.70.-y – Disperse systems
© EDP Sciences, 1996