The order-disorder transition in model lipid bilayers is a first-order
hexatic to liquid phase transition
- Author(s): Katira, S
- Mandadapu, KK
- Vaikuntanathan, S
- Smit, B
- Chandler, D
- et al.
We characterize the order-disorder transition in a model lipid bilayer using molecular dynamics simulations. We find that the ordered phase is hexatic. In particular, in-plane structures possess a finite concentration of 5-7 disclination pairs that diffuse throughout the plane of the bilayer, and further, in-plane structures exhibit long-range orientational order and short-range translational order. In contrast, the disordered phase is liquid. The transition between the two phases is first order. Specifically, it exhibits hysteresis, and coexistence exhibits an interface with capillary scaling. The location of the interface and its spatial fluctuations are analyzed with a spatial field constructed from a rotational-invariant for local 6-fold orientational order. As a result of finite interfacial tension, there necessarily exist associated forces of assembly between membrane-bound solutes that pre-melt the ordered phase.