Self-assembly and primitive membrane formation: between stability and dynamism

Martin M. Hanczyc, Pierre-Alain Monnard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


The self‐assembly of amphiphiles in aqueous environments into supramolecular structures such as bilayer membranes provides the foundation for our understanding of how lipids are intimately coupled with the formation of the cell, with cellular identity, with cellular functions and, when disrupted, cell death. The spontaneous self‐assembly of membranes may also be fundamental in the emergence of the first living cells in the context of an early Earth devoid of life. In this chapter, we will review the role of self‐assembly of single‐hydrocarbon chain amphiphiles into higher order soft‐matter structures such as vesicles. We will describe the effects of mixed amphiphile constituents on membrane formation and how the environment effects a large influence on the formation and stability of such membranes. Finally, we will present how single‐hydrocarbon chain amphiphiles have been used to construct protocellular compartments in origin of life studies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSelf-Assembly : From Surfactants to Nanoparticles
EditorsRamanathan Nagarajan
Publication dateJan 2019
ISBN (Print)978-1-119-00136-2
ISBN (Electronic)9781119001379
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
SeriesWiley Series on Surface and Interfacial Chemistry


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