Date of Original Version
Abstract or Table of Contents
Biological membranes are composed of a thermally disordered lipid matrix and therefore require non-crystallographic scattering approaches for structural characterization with x-rays or neutrons. Here we develop a continuous distribution (CD) model to refine neutron or x-ray reflectivity data from complex architectures of organic molecules. The new model is a flexible implementation of the composition-space refinement of interfacial structures to constrain the resulting scattering length density profiles. We show this model increases the precision with which molecular components may be localized within a sample, with a minimal use of free model parameters. We validate the new model by parameterizing all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of bilayers and by evaluating the neutron reflectivity of a phospholipid bilayer physisorbed to a solid support. The determination of the structural arrangement of a sparsely-tethered bilayer lipid membrane (stBLM) comprised of a multi-component phospholipid bilayer anchored to a gold substrate by a thiolated oligo(ethylene oxide) linker is also demonstrated. From the model we extract the bilayer composition and density of tether points, information which was previously inaccessible for stBLM systems. The new modeling strategy has been implemented into the ga_refl reflectivity data evaluation suite, available through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Center for Neutron Research (NCNR).