Confined multilamellae prefer cylindrical morphology: AAAA theory of myelin formation

J. R. Huang*, L. N. Zou, T. A. Witten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


By evaporating a drop of lipid dispersion we generate the myelin morphology often seen in dissolving surfactant powders. We explain these puzzling nonequilibrium structures using a geometric argument: the bilayer repeat spacing increases and thus the repulsion between bilayers decreases when a multilamellar disk is converted into a myelin without gain or loss of material and with number of bilayers unchanged. Sufficient reduction in bilayer repulsion can compensate for the cost in curvature energy, leading to a net stability of the myelin structure. A numerical estimate predicts the degree of dehydration required to favor myelin structures over flat lamellae.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-285
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Physical Journal E
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Nov
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Surfaces and Interfaces


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