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Cylindrical Inclusions in a Copolymer Membrane

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journal contribution
posted on 28.12.2006, 00:00 by Qiyi Zhang, Yuqiang Ma
The membrane-mediated interaction between two parallel, cylindrical inclusions is investigated by using the self-consistent field theory (SCFT). The rodlike inclusions are located within the interior of the bilayer and are enveloped by two monolayers. They may exhibit one of the two basic types of behaviors involving pinching two monolayers together and swelling them outward. For different parameters, we calculate the density profile of the deformation membrane, the associated interaction free energy, as well as the conformational entropy of polymer chains. The similarity of the two types of interaction potentials is the qualitative characteristics. An energy barrier separates an attractive from a repulsive region; the repulsive region is preceded by a weak attraction at a large distance. The difference between them, which is due to the different contact environments around the rods, lies in the appearance of a small barrier at a short distance in the pinching structure. Particular emphasis is put on the closely energetic and entropic analyses of the interaction potential. We show that the chemical potential energy has provided a qualitative trend and roughly dominated the basic shape of the interaction potential; the amphiphile entropy in the swelling structure and the solvent entropy in the pinching structure, combined with the corresponding chemical potential energy, are responsible for the repulsive barrier at an intermediate distance and for the weak attraction at a large distance, respectively. The influence of inclusion hydrophobicity on the interaction potential is taken into account. In particular, the pinching and swelling structures can appear and can transform into each other in a system at intermediate hydrophobicity.