Temperature-dependent phase transitions in zeptoliter volumes of a complex biological membrane

Maxim P. Nikiforov, Sophia Hohlbauch, William Paul King, Kislon Vöitchovsky, Sonia Antoranz Contera, Stephen Jesse, Sergei V. Kalinin, Roger Proksch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Phase transitions in purple membrane have been a topic of debate for the past two decades. In this work we present studies of a reversible transition of purple membrane in the 50-60 °C range in zeptoliter volumes under different heating regimes (global heating and local heating). The temperature of the reversible phase transition is 52 ± 5 °C for both local and global heating, supporting the hypothesis that this transition is mainly due to a structural rearrangement of bR molecules and trimers. To achieve high resolution measurements of temperature-dependent phase transitions, a new scanning probe microscopy-based method was developed. We believe that our new technique can be extended to other biological systems and can contribute to the understanding of inhomogeneous phase transitions in complex systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number055709
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 4 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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