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Zeitschrift für Naturforschung C

A Journal of Biosciences

Editor-in-Chief: Seibel, Jürgen

Editorial Board Member: Aigner , Achim / Boland, Wilhelm / Bornscheuer, Uwe / Hoffmann, Klaus

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Elastic Properties of Lipid Bilayers: Theory and Possible Experiments

W Helfrich
  • Physics Department, F. Hoffmann-La Roche & Co., Ltd
Published Online: 2014-06-02 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/znc-1973-11-1209


A theory of the elasticity of lipid bilayers is proposed. Three types of strain, i. e. stretching, tilt and curvature, are distinguished and the associated stresses are identified. It is argued that in the case of vesicles (= closed bilayer films) the only elasticity controlling nonspherical shapes is that of curvature. Euler-Lagrange equations are derived for the shape in magnetic fields and under excess outside pressure. It is shown that magnetic fields can deform spherical vesicles into ellipsoids of revolution. Under excess outside pressure the spherical shape becomes unstable at a certain threshold pressure. Both effects can be influenced by a spontaneous curvature of the bilayer. Some possible experiments to determine the elastic properties are also discussed

: Lipid bilayers; elastic properties

Received: 1973-07-04

Published Online: 2014-06-02

Published in Print: 1973-12-01

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Naturforschung C. Volume 28, Issue 11-12, Pages 693–703, ISSN (Online) 1865-7125, ISSN (Print) 0939-5075, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/znc-1973-11-1209, June 2014

© 1946 – 2014: Verlag der Zeitschrift für Naturforschung. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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