Power-law fluctuations in phase-separated lipid membranes
The spatial structure of three binary lipid mixtures, prepared as multilamellar vesicles, was studied by small-angle neutron scattering. In the fluid-gel coexistence region, large- scale concentration fluctuations appear which scatter like surface fractals for small acyl- chain mismatch and like mass fractals for large mismatch over about one decade of length. The transition is highly discontinuous: The fractal dimension of the boundary between the gel and fluid drops from 2.7 to 1.7, the gel fraction in the fluctuations drops from about 0.5 to 0.07, and the gel domains interlamellar correlation drops from strong to weak. We interpret the fluctuations as long-lived descendants of the incipient two-phase equilibrium state and the transition as due to changes in the gel rigidity and phase diagram.
Phys. Rev. E 60, 7354-7359 (1999)