Europhys. Lett.
Volume 48, Number 4, November 1999
Page(s) 435 - 441
Section Condensed matter: structure, mechanical and thermal properties
Published online 01 September 2002
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i1999-00501-8

Europhys. Lett, 48 (4), pp. 435-441 (1999)

Coupling chemical reactions to membrane curvature: A photochemical morphology switch

P. G. Petrov, J. B. Lee and H.-G. Döbereiner

Max-Planck-Institut für Kolloid- und Grenzflächenforschung
Am Mühlenberg, 14476 Golm, Germany

(received 23 June 1999; accepted in final form 17 September 1999)

PACS. 68.10$\rm -m$ - Fluid surfaces and fluid-fluid interfaces.
PACS. 87.16Dg - Membranes, bilayers, and vesicles.


We investigate the morphological response of giant phosphatidylcholine vesicles to a photochemical reaction taking place in the aqueous medium. We control the sign and magnitude of membrane curvature by inducing photoaquation of ferricyanide inside or outside the vesicle capsules. Curvature response is quantified via analysis of changes in vesicle shapes and in their thermal fluctuation spectra. As an underlying mechanism for the light-induced change in membrane curvature, we propose asymmetric charging of the internal or external monolayers by ion adsorption. Our study provides a specific example of a coupling between chemical reactions and interfacial geometry. The new photo-morphological effect may be used as a fast and reversible switch of membrane curvature.




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