Phase Transitions and Heterogeneity in Lipid Bilayers

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Science  10 Aug 1973:
Vol. 181, Issue 4099, pp. 557-559
DOI: 10.1126/science.181.4099.557


The optical reflectivity of several well-characterized lipid bilayer systems has been correlated with calorimetric studies of the membrane components. There is a large increase in mean membrane thickness when a bilayer is cooled below the transition temperature of the membrane lipid. Similar studies on membranes generated from a mixture of two lipids possessing different degrees of unsaturation suggest that between the characteristic transition temperatures of the two lipids, the bilayer contains clusters of gel and liquid crystalline lipid which coexist within the plane of the membrane.