Abstract and Keywords
This article examines the properties of biological fluid interfaces and membranes, with particular emphasis on monolayers and bilayers. There are several examples of interfaces between biological fluids; the most relevant to human physiology are probably the liquid/air interfaces in the lungs and on the surface of the eyes. Both of these feature films with remarkable properties of compressibility and self-healing. After providing an overview of the constituent molecules of biological interfaces, this article reviews the current knowledge on surface films and membranes, giving context for their role in biology, but paying special attention to the basic physical ideas that underpin fundamental studies of in-vitro model systems. It also considers isolated membranes, characterized by tension, elasticity and viscous damping, as well as closed vesicles and cells where the membrane separates the cytoskeleton from the extracellular matrix.
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