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From supported membranes to tethered vesicles: Lipid bilayer destabilisation at the main transition

Lecuyer, S. and Charitat, T.

We report results concerning the destabilisation of supported phospholipid bilayers in a well-defined geometry. When heating up supported phospholipid membranes deposited on highly hydrophilic glass slides from room temperature (i.e. with lipids in the gel phase), unbinding was observed around the main gel to fluid transition temperature of the lipids. It leads to the formation of relatively monodisperse vesicles, of which most remained tethered to the supported bilayer. We interpret these observations in terms of a sharp decrease
of the bending rigidity modulus κ in the transition region, combined with a weak initial adhesion energy. On the basis of scaling arguments, we show that our experimental findings are consistent with this hypothesis.