The role of optical projection in the analysis of membrane fluctuations

14 Aug 2017

The spectral analysis of thermal fluctuations, or flickering, is a simple and non-invasive method widely used to determine the mechanical properties of artificial and biological lipid membranes. In its most common implementation, the position of the edge of a cell or vesicle is tracked from optical microscopy videos. However, a systematic disagreement with X-ray scattering and micromechanical manipulation data has brought into question the validity of the method. We present an improved analysis protocol that resolves these discrepancies by accounting for the finite vertical resolution of the optics used to image fluctuations.