Electrostatic Repulsion of Positively Charged Vesicles and Negatively Charged Objects

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Science  16 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5426, pp. 394-397
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5426.394

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A positively charged, mixed bilayer vesicle in the presence of negatively charged surfaces (for example, colloidal particles) can spontaneously partition into an adhesion zone of definite area and another zone that repels additional negative objects. Although the membrane itself has nonnegative charge in the repulsive zone, negative counterions on the interior of the vesicle spontaneously aggregate there and present a net negative charge to the exterior. Beyond the fundamental result that oppositely charged objects can repel, this mechanism helps to explain recent experiments on surfactant vesicles.

  • * Address after 1 September 1999: Department of Chemical Engineering, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

  • Address after 1 September 1999: Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.

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