Nanoparticle-Engendered Rupture of Lipid Membranes

Sean Burgess, Aleksey Vishnyakov, Christopher Tsovko, Alexander V. Neimark

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Tension-induced rupture of 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DMPC) lipid membranes with encapsulated hydrophobic nanoparticles is elucidated using dissipative particle dynamics simulations. The dynamics of hole formation is studied, and a nanoparticle size-dependent relationship is established for the probability of membrane rupture within a given time as a function of the membrane tension. Two mechanisms of hole formation are explored: homogeneous nucleation and heterogeneous nucleation at the nanoparticle surface. While the kinetics of homogeneous nucleation in unloaded membranes complies with the predictions of the classical Deryagin-Gutop (DG) theory, the heterogeneous nucleation causes progressively lower lysis tensions as the particle size increases. The thermodynamics of heterogeneous nucleation is treated by introducing an effective contact angle at the three-phase, solvent-membrane-solid boundary into the DG theory. The proposed approach helps quantitatively interpret the simulation results and predict the membrane stability in real experiments with significantly larger (by many orders of magnitude) observation times and spatial scales.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4872-4877
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
    Issue number17
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2018


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