Nano-meter-sized domain formation in lipid membranes observed by small angle neutron scattering

T. Masui, N. Urakami, M. Imai

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Using a contrast matching technique of small angle neutron scattering (SANS), we have investigated a phase separation to liquid-disordered and liquid-ordered phases on ternary small unilamellar vesicles (SUVs) composed of deuterated-saturated, hydrogenated-unsaturated phosphatidylcholine lipids and cholesterol, where the equilibrium size of these domains is constrained to less than 10nm by the system size. Below a miscibility temperature, we observed characteristic scattering profiles with a maximum, indicating the formation of nano-meter-sized domains on the SUVs. The observed profiles can be described by a multi-domain model rather than a mono-domain model. The nano-meter-sized domain is agitated by thermal fluctuations and eventually ruptured, which may result in the multi-domain state. The kinetically trapped nano-meter-sized domains grow to a mono-domain state by decreasing temperature. Furthermore, between the miscibility and disorder-order transition temperature of saturated lipid, the integrated SANS intensity increased slightly, indicating the formation of nano-meter-sized heterogeneity prior to the domain nucleation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-389
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Physical Journal E
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Dec


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