Laterally structured ripple and square phases with one and two dimensional thickness modulations in a model bilayer system

  • Debnath A
  • Thakkar F
  • Maiti P
 et al. 
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Molecular dynamics simulations of bilayers in a surfactant/co-surfactant/water system with explicit solvent molecules show formation of topologically distinct gel phases depending upon the bilayer composition. At low temperatures, the bilayers transform from the tilted gel phase, Lβ′, to the one dimensional (1D) rippled, Pβ′ phase as the surfactant concentration is increased. More interestingly, we observe a two dimensional (2D) square phase at higher surfactant concentration which, upon heating, transforms to the gel Lβ′ phase. The thickness modulations in the 1D rippled and square phases are asymmetric in two surfactant leaflets and the bilayer thickness varies by a factor of ∼2 between maximum and minimum. The 1D ripple consists of a thinner interdigitated region of smaller extent alternating with a thicker non-interdigitated region. The 2D ripple phase is made up of two superimposed square lattices of maximum and minimum thicknesses with molecules of high tilt forming a square lattice translated from the lattice formed with the thickness minima. Using Voronoi diagrams we analyze the intricate interplay between the area-per-head-group, height modulations and chain tilt for the different ripple symmetries. Our simulations indicate that composition plays an important role in controlling the formation of low temperature gel phase symmetries and rippling accommodates the increased area-per-head-group of the surfactant molecules.

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  • Ananya Debnath

  • Foram M. Thakkar

  • Prabal K. Maiti

  • V. Kumaran

  • K. G. Ayappa

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