Intermolecular forces in spread phospholipid monolayers at oil/water interfaces

James Mingins, Brian A. Pethica

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The lateral intermolecular forces between phospholipids are of particular relevance to the behavior of biomembranes, and have been approached via studies of monolayer isotherms at aqueous interfaces, mostly restricted to air/water (A/W) systems. For thermodynamic properties, the oil/water (O/W) interface has major advantages but is experimentally more difficult and less studied. A comprehensive reanalysis of the available thermodynamic data on spread monolayers of phosphatidyl cholines (PC) and phosphatidyl ethanolamines (PE) at O/W interfaces is conducted to identify the secure key features that will underpin further development of molecular models. Relevant recourse is made to isotherms of single-chain molecules and of mixed monolayers to identify the contributions of chain-chain interactions and interionic forces. The emphasis is on the properties of the phase transitions for a range of oil phases. Apparent published discrepancies in thermodynamic properties are resolved and substantial agreement emerges on the main features of these phospholipid monolayer systems. In compression to low areas, the forces between the zwitterions of like phospholipids are repulsive. The molecular model for phospholipid headgroup interactions developed by Stigter et al. accounts well for the virial coefficients in expanded phospholipid O/W monolayers. Inclusion of the changes in configuration and orientation of the zwitterion headgroups on compression, which are indicated by the surface potentials in the phase transition region, and inclusion of the energy of chain demixing from the oil phase will be required for molecular modeling of the phase transitions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)7493-7498
Number of pages6
Issue number18
StatePublished - Aug 31 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Spectroscopy
  • General Materials Science
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Electrochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Intermolecular forces in spread phospholipid monolayers at oil/water interfaces'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this