Linking lipid architecture to bilayer structure and mechanics using self-consistent field modelling

H. Pera, J.M. Kleijn, F.A.M. Leermakers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


To understand how lipid architecture determines the lipid bilayer structure and its mechanics, we implement a molecularly detailed model that uses the self-consistent field theory. This numerical model accurately predicts parameters such as Helfrichs mean and Gaussian bending modulus k c and k ¯ and the preferred monolayer curvature J m 0 , and also delivers structural membrane properties like the core thickness, and head group position and orientation. We studied how these mechanical parameters vary with system variations, such as lipid tail length, membrane composition, and those parameters that control the lipid tail and head group solvent quality. For the membrane composition, negatively charged phosphatidylglycerol (PG) or zwitterionic, phosphatidylcholine (PC), and -ethanolamine (PE) lipids were used. In line with experimental findings, we find that the values of k c and the area compression modulus k A are always positive. They respond similarly to parameters that affect the core thickness, but differently to parameters that affect the head group properties. We found that the trends for k ¯ and J m 0 can be rationalised by the concept of Israelachivili's surfactant packing parameter, and that both k ¯ and J m 0 change sign with relevant parameter changes. Although typically k ¯
Original languageEnglish
Article number065102
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • interacting chain molecules
  • statistical thermodynamics
  • spontaneous curvature
  • bending moduli
  • association colloids
  • membranes
  • elasticity
  • adsorption
  • monolayers
  • vesicles


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