N-body study of anisotropic membrane inclusions: Membrane mediated interactions and ordered aggregation

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We study the collective behavior of inclusions inducing local anisotropic curvatures in a flexible fluid membrane. The N-body interaction energy for general anisotropic inclusions is calculated explicitly, including multi-body interactions. Long-range attractive interactions between inclusions are found to be sufficiently strong to induce aggregation. Monte Carlo simulations show a transition from compact clusters to aggregation on lines or circles. These results might be relevant to proteins in biological membranes or colloidal particles bound to surfactant membranes.

Received 30 July 1999 and Received in final form 8 September 1999