Biomathematics Seminar: Non-equilibrium physics of biological membranes
12 November 2010 15:15 in Mathematical Sciences, CM107
Fluid membranes can often be understood in terms of a continuum theory describing the physics of a quasi-2d surface. We now understand many of the properties of these membranes at thermodynamic equilibrium. I will discuss one recent example - the force exerted by a fluctuating fluid membrane on a rigid constraint, such as a nearby obstacle. However, It is increasingly being recognised that the most important problems for Biology are inherently non-equilibrium; cells are alive. I believe one such problem to be the regulation of compositional (and hence functional) heterogeneity on biological membranes. To this end I study coarsening in two-component membranes in the presence of continuous membrane recycling and show how a power-law steady state domain size distribution can arise spontaneously with a mean size close to that which is suggested by experiments. I conjecture that this size is the same in all scale free recycling schemes. I also show how compositional heterogeneity can be driven by external fields, e.g. forces exerted by the cytoskeleton of the cell. I will present relevant experimental data throughout my talk.