Adhesion of Two Cylindrical Particles to a Soft Membrane Tube
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The interaction of nanoparticles with biological systems, especially interactions with cell membranes, has been a subject of active research due to its numerous applications in many areas of soft-matter and biological systems. Within only a few relevant physical parameters profound structural properties have been discovered in the context of simple coarse-grained theoretical models. In this Thesis we study the structure of a tubular membrane adhering to two rigid cylindrical particles on a basis of a free-energy model that uses Helfrich energy for the description of the membrane. A numerical procedure is developed to solve the shape equations that determine the state of lowest energy. Several phase transitions exist in the system, arising from the competition between the bending energy of the membrane and the adhesion energy between the membrane and the particles. A continuous adhesion transition between the free and bound states, as well as several discontinuous shape transitions are identified, depending on the physical parameters of the system. The results are then generalized into a single phase diagram separating free, symmetric- and asymmetric-wrapping states in the phase space of the size of the particles and the adhesion energy. We show that for a relatively small size of the membrane tube the interaction between the cylinders becomes attractive in the strong curvature regime, leading to aggregation of the particles in the highly curved area of the tube that is characteristically different from the aggregation in a related three-dimensional system. For a relatively large membrane tube size the cylinders prefer to have a non-zero separation, even in the completely engulfed state. This indicates that, i) the spontaneous curvature of the membrane may play a role in the sign of the interaction of two colloidal particles adhered to a membrane and ii) cylindrical particles can aggregate on membrane tubes and vesicles if the curvature of the membrane around the aggregation region is sufficiently large.