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Lipids are the main constituents of biological cell membranes, and their liquid crystalline properties play a crucial role in cell functions. We have discovered that dodecyl-beta-D-glucopyranoside glycolipid layers can be electrically polarized in supramolecular structures of glycolipid and bent-core ("banana-shape") molecules. Interestingly the glycolipid molecules, known to be excellent chiral dopants, are not able to transfer their chirality to the bent-core layers. Our observations indicate that glycolipid molecules self-assemble into pairs of tilted and antiferroelectric double layers, sandwiched between layers of bent-core molecules. These systems may provide a basis for understanding "bioferroelectricity," which is important in biological cell membrane functions.


Sugat Abeygunaratne, Antal Jákli, Götz Milkereit, Hans Sawade, Volkmar Vill. Antiferroelectric ordering of amphiphilic glycolipids in bent-core liquid crystals. Physical review. E, Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics. 2004 Feb;69(2 Pt 1):021703

PMID: 14995465

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