Biomembranes shown to behave like elastic sheets, can also suffer plastic deformations. Neutron scattering experiments on partially polymerised wrinkled membranes revealed that when a critical degree of polymerisation is crossed, the wrinkled membranes do not resume their spherical shapes. Instead they remain wrinkled and rigid while their non-polymerised counterparts resume their spherical floppy shapes. The yield stress of these membranes, measured for the first time via the fractal dimension, is intimately related to the degree of polymerisation probably through a 2D disorder that quenches the lateral diffusion of the lipid molecules. This work might shed light on the physical reason behind the irreversible deformation of echinocytes, acanthocytes and malaria infected red blood cells.
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