Instability of myelin tubes under dehydration: Deswelling of layered cylindrical structures

C. M. Chen, C. F. Schmidt, P. D. Olmsted, F. C. MacKintosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report experimental observations of an undulational instability of myelin figures. Motivated by this, we examine theoretically the deformation and possible instability of concentric, cylindrical, multilamellar membrane structures. Under conditions of osmotic stress (swelling or dehydration), we find a stable, deformed state in which the layer deformation is given by [formula presented] where [formula presented] is the area compression modulus, B is the interlayer compression modulus, and h is the repeat distance of layers. Also, above a finite threshold of dehydration (or osmotic stress), we find that the system becomes unstable to undulations, first with a characteristic wavelength of order [formula presented] where [formula presented] is the standard smectic penetration depth and [formula presented] is the thickness of dehydrated region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4
Number of pages1
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical Physics, Plasmas, Fluids, and Related Interdisciplinary Topics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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