Soft Materials and Biomaterials under Pressure

Putting the Squeeze on Biology
  • S. M. Gruner
Conference paper
Part of the NATO Science Series book series (NAII, volume 140)


Soft-matter macromolecular assemblies include proteins; biomembranes; surfactant, lipid, and block-copolymer mesophases; cellular cytoskeletal networks; and other large-molecule assemblies found in living systems. These systems generally differ from small-molecule systems in that the molecules have many “parts”, each of which may have a huge number of conformational substates. The free energies of different substates often differ only slightly, even though the 3-dimensional molecular structures may differ greatly. A dramatic example is the two substate ensembles represented by a protein in its native and unfolded states. Unfolding may occur with only modest changes in environmental conditions (e.g., temperature, solvent conditions) and with extremely small transition enthalpies. Despite the small energy change, the structures, and, more importantly, functionality of the folded and unfolded protein could hardly be more different.


Hydrocarbon Chain Medium Pressure Lipid Monolayer Spontaneous Curvature Unit Cell Size 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. M. Gruner
    • 1
  1. 1.Physics Department & Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS)Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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