The structure and dynamics of model lipid membrane systems as biomimetic models for cellular membranes
We are studying the structure and dynamics of membranes composed of mixtures of phospholipids, sphingolipids and cholesterol, using X-ray and neutron scattering. These serve as model systems for studying the complex processes that go on in biomembranes, such as self-assembly, raft formation, membrane-protein interactions, etc. Thus we are examining the conditions under which nano phase separation which leads to raft formation occurs, and the size and structure of the phase separated regions. We plan to study the structural effects of incorporation of nanoparticles, or external macromolecules, such as proteins, in these lipid membranes. We are also studying the dynamical fluctuations of these membranes with X-ray photon correlation spectroscopy, and grazing incidence neutron spin-echo experiments.