Cover Story: Membranes Close to Phase Transition
June 2019. Our study characterizes the structure and dynamics of phospholipid bilayers close to phase transition employing atomistic molecular dynamics simulations. The simulations recover not only the well-studied first-order transition with discontinuities in the area per lipid or membrane thickness but the anomalous behavior for the isothermal compressibility and bending rigidity at phase transition previously reported from experiments, as well. To the best of our knowledge, the molecular dynamics simulations revealed, for the first time, the dynamic appearance and disappearance of both spatially related nanometer-sized thick ordered domains and thin interdigitating domains above the transition temperature that are reminiscent of the ripple phase. These thin membrane domains are related to the experimentally described increased permeability of membranes close to phase transition.