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Elastic deformation of a fluid membrane upon colloid binding

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journal contribution
posted on 01.03.2004, 00:00 by Markus Deserno

When a colloidal particle adheres to a fluid membrane, it induces elastic deformations in the membrane which oppose its own binding. The structural and energetic aspects of this balance are investigated within the framework of a Helfrich Hamiltonian. Based on the full nonlinear shape equations for the membrane profile, a line of continuous binding transitions and a second line of discontinuous envelopment transitions are found, which meet at an unusual triple point. The regime of low tension is studied analytically using a small gradient expansion, while in the limit of large tension scaling arguments are derived which quantify the asymptotic behavior of phase boundary, degree of wrapping, and energy barrier. The maturation of animal viruses by budding is discussed as a biological example of such colloid-membrane interaction events.