Publication Title

Physical Review E

Publication Date

1-7-2009

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1103/PhysRevE.79.011701

Keywords

ferroelectric liquid-crystals, living membranes, water, conduction, flexoelectricity, monolayer, interface, lecithin, protons, systems

Disciplines

Physics

Abstract

The role of chirality in membrane-forming lipids is not well appreciated at present. Here we demonstrate that the chirality of phospholipids makes fluid lipid bilayers piezoelectric. Thus, chiral lipids would play a central role in the functioning of cell membranes as active mechanotransducers. By periodically shearing and compressing nonaqueous lamellar phases of left (L-alpha-phosphatidylcholine), right (D-alpha-phosphatidylcholine), and racemic (DL-alpha-phosphatidylcholine) lipids, we induced a tilt of the molecules with respect to the bilayer's normal and produced electric current perpendicular to the tilt plane, with the chiral lipids only. This effect is due to the Sm-A(*) phase liquid crystal structure of the bilayers, which under molecular tilt becomes a ferroelectric Sm-C(*) phase, where the polarization is normal to the tilt plane. This coupling allows for a wide variety of sensory possibilities of cell membranes such as mechanoreception, magnetosensitivity, as well as in-plane proton membrane transport and related phenomena such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthesis, soft molecular machine performance, etc.

Comments

Copyright 2009 American Physical Society. Available on publisher's site at http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevE.79.011701


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