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Physics (HMC)

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The authors describe a light-scattering technique capable of probing the dynamics of thickness fluctuations in lipid bilayers. The technique, which they call reflectance fluctuation spectroscopy (RFS), is keenly sensitive to light scattered from the squeeze modes of motion in a thin liquid film, and insensitive to light scattered from the bend modes. A laser beam is focused to a small spot on the film, and the power in the specularly reflected beam is recorded in real time. Thickness fluctuations associated with the squeeze modes of motion give rise to fluctuations in the power of the specularly reflected light. The frequency spectrum of the fluctuations in detected power (RFS spectrum) can be analyzed to yield values for the film viscosity and thickness compressibility. The authors present two independent theoretical derivations of the RFS spectrum and show that scattering from the bend mode can be neglected. The theoretical expression for the RFS spectrum is compared with experimental spectra obtained from glycerylmonooleate-decane bilayers. The fit of the theory to the data is excellent and the values deduced for the film viscosity and thickness compressibility are reasonable.


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© 1993 American Physical Society

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