Packing of molecules and hole formation in lyotropic systems
A vector field q (the order parameter of the molecular packing) describing the packing (specifically, the orientation) of membrane-forming amphiphilic molecules is introduced to describe the structures of lyotropic phases constructed from membranes. In the general case q·n≠0 (where n is the unit normal vector) and therefore the singularities of the vector field q are not determined uniquely by the topology of the surface. The condition q·n=0 signifies disruption of the packing of the molecules. This corresponds to holes, which can form in membranes when lyotropic systems are diluted. As an illustration, the simplest type of such singularities, in which the distribution of the field q around a hole is described by a part of an instanton with unit topological charge, is studied. It is shown that such a distribution guarantees the existence of a local minimum under the condition that the tension per unit length λ of the hole boundary is small compared with the deformation energy of the field q:λh/K≪l (K is the modulus of the orientational elasticity of the field q and h is the thickness of the membrane). The radius of the hole which is formed equals L≈2.52(K/λh)1/3 and the energy E≈59.79K(λh/K)1/3.
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