Coiling instabilities of multilamellar tubes

C. D. Santangelo, P. Pincus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Myelin figures are densely packed stacks of coaxial cylindrical bilayers that are unstable to the formation of coils or double helices. These myelin figures appear to have no intrinsic chirality. We show that such cylindrical membrane stacks can develop an instability when they acquire a spontaneous curvature or when the equilibrium distance between membranes is decreased. This instability breaks the chiral symmetry of the stack and may result in coiling. A unilamellar cylindrical vesicle, on the other hand, will develop an axisymmetric instability, possibly related to the pearling instability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7
Number of pages1
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical Physics, Plasmas, Fluids, and Related Interdisciplinary Topics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 13 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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