Europhys. Lett.
Volume 62, Number 5, June 2003
Page(s) 767 - 774
Section Interdisciplinary physics and related areas of science and technology
Published online 01 May 2003
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i2003-00438-4
Europhys. Lett., 62 (5) , pp. 767-774 (2003)

Wrapping of a spherical colloid by a fluid membrane

M. Deserno1 and T. Bickel1, 2

1  Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCLA Box 951569, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
2  Department of Physics and Astronomy, UCLA Box 951547, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA

(Received 6 January 2003; accepted in final form 7 April 2003)

We theoretically study the elastic deformation of a fluid membrane induced by an adhering spherical colloidal particle within the framework of a Helfrich energy. Based on a full optimization of the membrane shape we find a continuous binding and a discontinuous envelopment transition, the latter displaying a potentially substantial energy barrier. A small-gradient approximation permits membrane shape and complex energy to be calculated analytically. While this only leads to a good representation of the complex geometry for very small degrees of wrapping, it still gives the correct phase boundaries in the regime of low tension.

87.16.Dg - Membranes, bilayers, and vesicles.
87.15.Kg - Molecular interactions; membrane-protein interactions.
46.70.Hg - Membranes, rods and strings.

© EDP Sciences 2003