Thickness-radius relationship and spring constants of cholesterol helical ribbons

Boris Khaykovich, Natalia Kozlova, Wonshik Choi, Aleksey Lomakin, Chintan Hossain, Yongjin Sung, Ramachandra R. Dasari, Michael S. Feld, George B. Benedek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Using quantitative phase microscopy, we have discovered a quadratic relationship between the radius R and the thickness t of helical ribbons that form spontaneously in multicomponent cholesterol-surfactant mixtures. These helical ribbons may serve as mesoscopic springs to measure or to exert forces on nanoscale biological objects. The spring constants of these helices depend on their submicroscopic thickness. The quadratic relationship (R ∝ t 2) between radius and thickness is a consequence of the crystal structure of the ribbons and enables a determination of the spring constant of any of our helices solely in terms of its observable geometrical dimensions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15663-15666
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Sep 15


  • Biological force spectroscopy
  • Elasticity of thin films
  • Phase-contrast microscopy in biophysics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Thickness-radius relationship and spring constants of cholesterol helical ribbons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this