Molecular dynamics simulations of a lipid bilayer and of hexadecane: an investigation of membrane fluidity

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Science  08 Oct 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5131, pp. 223-226
DOI: 10.1126/science.8211140


Molecular dynamics simulations of a fluid-phase dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine lipid bilayer in water and of neat hexadecane are reported and compared with nuclear magnetic resonance spin-lattice relaxation and quasi-elastic neutron scattering data. On the 100-picosecond time scale of the present simulations, there is effectively no difference in the reorientational dynamics of the carbons in the membrane interior and in pure hexadecane. Given that the calculated fast reorientational correlation times and the "microscopic" lateral diffusion of the lipids show excellent agreement with the experimental results, it is concluded that the apparently high viscosity of the membrane is more closely related to molecular interactions on the surface rather than in the interior.