DOI: 10.1515/zna-1978-0308 ISSN:

Steric Interaction of Fluid Membranes in Multilayer Systems

W. Helfrich
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Mathematical Physics


The out-of-plane fluctuations of fluid membranes are sterically hindered in multilayer systems. The repulsive interaction associated with the steric or excluded-volume effect is studied theoretically by two methods. The interaction energy per unit area of membrane is derived as a function of temperature, membrane curvature elasticity and mean membrane spacing; it is inversely proportional to the square of the latter. Steric repulsion is estimated for lecithin bilayers in water. There and in other cases, it may compete with van der Waals attraction.

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