Computer simulations of phospholipid - membrane thermodynamic fluctuations

U.R. Pedersen, Günther H.j. Peters, T.B. Schröder, J.C. Dyre

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This paper reports all-atom computer simulations of five phospholipid membranes, DMPC, DPPC, DMPG, DMPS, and DMPSH, with a focus on the thermal equilibrium fluctuations of volume, energy, area, thickness, and order parameter. For the slow fluctuations at constant temperature and pressure (defined by averaging over 0.5 nanosecond) volume and energy exhibit strong correlation. These quantities on the other hand do not correlate significantly with area, thickness, or order parameter. The correlations are mainly reported for the fluid phase, but we also give results for the ordered (gel) phase of two membranes, showing a similar picture. The cause of the observed strong correlations is identified by splitting volume and energy into contributions from tails, heads, and water, showing that the slow volume-energy fluctuations derive from the tail region’s van der Waals interactions and are thus analogous the similar strong correlations recently observed in computer simulations of the Lennard-Jones and other simple van der Waals type liquids. The strong correlations reported here confirm an assumption of a recent theory for nerve signal propagation proposed by Heimburg and Jackson (2005).
Original languageEnglish Physics
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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