Journal of Biological Physics

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 339–354 | Cite as

Frequency-dependent electrodeformation of giant phospholipid vesicles in AC electric field

Original Paper


A model of vesicle electrodeformation is described which obtains a parametrized vesicle shape by minimizing the sum of the membrane bending energy and the energy due to the electric field. Both the vesicle membrane and the aqueous media inside and outside the vesicle are treated as leaky dielectrics, and the vesicle itself is modeled as a nearly spherical shape enclosed within a thin membrane. It is demonstrated (a) that the model achieves a good quantitative agreement with the experimentally determined prolate-to-oblate transition frequencies in the kilohertz range and (b) that the model can explain a phase diagram of shapes of giant phospholipid vesicles with respect to two parameters: the frequency of the applied alternating current electric field and the ratio of the electrical conductivities of the aqueous media inside and outside the vesicle, explored in a recent paper (S. Aranda et al., Biophys J 95:L19–L21, 2008). A possible use of the frequency-dependent shape transitions of phospholipid vesicles in conductometry of microliter samples is discussed.


Electrodeformation Giant phospholipid vesicle Leaky dielectric Membrane bending energy Vesicle shape 



The author would like to thank Prof. S. Svetina and Prof. B. Žekš for numerous helpful discussions and V. Arrigler for the help with vesicle preparation. This work has been supported by the Slovenian Research Agency through grant J3-2268.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Medicine, Institute of BiophysicsUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia

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