, 56006 (2012)
ISSN: 0295-5075, SCI
Shapes of hydrophobic thick membranes
Trinh X. Hoang, Jayanth R. Banavar and Amos Maritan
We introduce and study the behavior of a tethered membrane of non-zero thickness embedded in three dimensions subject to an effective self-attraction induced by hydrophobicity arising from the tendency to minimize the area exposed to a solvent. The phase behavior and the nature of the folded conformations are found to be quite distinct in the small and large solvent size regimes. We demonstrate spontaneous symmetry breaking with the membrane folding along a preferential axis, when the solvent molecules are small compared to the membrane thickness. For large solvent molecule size, a local crinkling mechanism effectively shields the membrane from the solvent, even in relatively flat conformations. We discuss the binding/unbinding transition of a membrane to a wall that serves to shield the membrane from the solvent.