Physical Review E
ferroelectric liquid-crystals, living membranes, water, conduction, flexoelectricity, monolayer, interface, lecithin, protons, systems
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.
Harden, John; Diorio, Nicholas; Petrov, Alexander G.; and Jakli, Antal (2009). Chirality of Lipids Makes Fluid Lamellar Phases Piezoelectric. Physical Review E 79(1). doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.79.011701 Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.kent.edu/cpippubs/162