The Membrane Biophysics Group focuses on theoretical and experimental thermodynamics and spectroscopy of biological systems. We investigate transitions in biomembranes, artificial lipid membranes and proteins. Our main techniques are calorimetry, atomic force microscopy, densitometry, Langmuir monolayers, black lipid membranes, standard electrophysiology and different spectroscopic methods (fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy), single molecule fluorescence microscopy, as well as statistical thermodynamics simulations.

In particular, we focus on the coupling of the elastic constants to the heat capacity. Our most important present interest is the propagation of density pulses in nerves, the role of anesthetics, and the occurrence of ion-channel- like events in pure lipid membranes close to transitions that are due to thermal fluctuations. We established a theory for the action potential that represents them as electromechanical solitons. This approach naturally provides a theory for anesthesia. We perform measurements on nerves in order to establish a generic thermodynamic view of nerve pulses and channels.

We base our work on the theory of fluctuations. This implies that we do not base our work on the function of single molecules but rather on the physics of ensembles. Our major aim is to establish a self-contained view of the function of biomembranes based on the fluctuation-dissipation theorem and the coupling of the susceptibilities.

Introductory articles:
Popular review Physik Journal 3/2009 (in German)
english translation, 2010 (arXiv)
Review on nerves and anesthesia 2007
Review on nerves and anesthesia 2009
Review on lipid ion channels 2010
Thermal Biophysics of Membranes, 2007
Monographie, 330 pages, Hardcover
Wiley-VCH, Berlin