Cell-Size Space Regulates the Behavior of Confined Polymers: From Nano- and Micromaterials Science to Biology

Langmuir. 2022 Oct 4;38(39):11811-11827. doi: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.2c01397. Epub 2022 Sep 20.


Polymer micromaterials in a liquid or gel phase covered with a surfactant membrane are widely used materials in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and foods. In particular, cell-sized micromaterials of biopolymer solutions covered with a lipid membrane have been studied as artificial cells to understand cells from a physicochemical perspective. The characteristics and phase transitions of polymers confined to a microscopic space often differ from those in bulk systems. The effect that causes this difference is referred to as the cell-size space effect (CSE), but the specific physicochemical factors remain unclear. This study introduces the analysis of CSE on molecular diffusion, nanostructure transition, and phase separation and presents their main factors, i.e., short- and long-range interactions with the membrane surface and small volume (finite element nature). This serves as a guide for determining the dominant factors of CSE. Furthermore, we also introduce other factors of CSE such as spatial closure and the relationships among space size, the characteristic length of periodicity, the structure size, and many others produced by biomolecular assemblies through the analysis of protein reaction-diffusion systems and biochemical reactions.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biology
  • Lipids
  • Polymers* / chemistry
  • Surface-Active Agents* / chemistry


  • Lipids
  • Polymers
  • Surface-Active Agents