Polymers grafted to a fluid and flexible membrane: Extreme sensitivity to the grafting density
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Equilibrium phase coexistence between two chemical species implies the equality of the chemical potentials and of the osmotic pressures. We study this problem on a deformable membrane when one type of the molecules serves as anchor for polymeric chains immersed in the surrounding medium (considered as a good solvent). We derive the general conditions for phase coexistence when both the curvature of the membrane and the density field of the anchor molecule are free to adjust themselves. We show that curvature favors phase segregation. Our model predicts that membranes decorated with polymeric chains exhibit new shape bifurcations without equivalent in fixed density systems.
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