Biological membranes from the perspective of smart materials - A theoretical study

Lior Atia, Sefi Givli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The unique properties and diverse functionality of biological membranes make them excellent candidates for nano-scale applications, such as sensors and actuators. Taking the view of biological membranes as smart bio-materials, we study the behavior of a simply supported beam made from a biological membrane-like material. Equilibrium configurations are derived by calculating the first variation of a generalized Helfrich energy, and their stability is examined by means of the second variation. Our numerical results demonstrate the richness of phenomena exhibited by these structures, in accordance with experimental observation of multi-component vesicles. Further, we demonstrate that the intriguing behavior of biological membrane beams, which is fundamentally different from standard beams and from standard Cahn Hilliard systems, can be utilized for actuation and sensing. For example, temperature and also pressure difference across the membrane can be indirectly measured by gauging the fluorescence intensity of the membrane components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2617-2624
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Solids and Structures
Issue number18
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Bio-materials
  • Deflection
  • Equilibrium
  • Heterogeneous
  • Lipid
  • Spontaneous curvature
  • Stability


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