Mechanics and Thermodynamics of Biomembranes: Ultrasoft Condensed Matter Science

Feb 27

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

11:30 am - 1:00 pm
Hudson Hall 208

The core fabric of a biomembrane is a 4nm thick highly-deformable liquid material dominated by entropy, weak molecular interactions, frustrated by confinement, yet unexpectedly strong and nearly impermeable. Perhaps surprising, this seemingly ephemeral material is as much a keystone of evolution as nucleic acid and protein polymers. An earth-age design (109 years), lipid-(chole)sterol membranes emerged as the new ¿state of matter¿ needed for a robust compartmentalization strategy that would enable the ultraslow evolutionary quest leading to modern eukaryotic systems (like ourselves). Although understood qualitatively for more than twenty years, I will describe how we have recently been able to quantify and experimentally probe the nanoscale physics of this exceptional material


Thompson, Michele