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Yan Levin: „A tale of supermagnets, superconductors and ion channels”
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

Ion channels are water filled holes which facilitate exchange of electrolyte between the exterior and interior of a cell. Pores are formed by specic proteins embedded into the phospholipid membrane. Depending on the conformation of the protein, the pore can be open or closed. In order to function properly the channel has to conduct thousands of ions in a period of few milliseconds. Considering that the channel passes through a phospholipid membrane which has a very low dielectric constant and is very narrow, resulting in large potential energy barriers, it is fascinating to contemplate how Natures manages to perform this amazing task. In this talk I will present an analytically solvable model which allows us to explicitly study the electrodynamics of ion transport through a channel [1]. Along the way I will also discuss a beautiful demonstration of Lenz's and Faraday's laws, which can be easily adopted to any electricity and magnetism course [2]. Finally, the dynamics of ion transport through a channel will be compared and contrasted to the dynamics of a magnet moving through a superconducting pipe [3].

[1] Y. Levin, Electrostatics of ions inside nanopores and trans-membrane channels, Europhys. Lett. 76, 163 (2006)
[2] Y. Levin, F. L. da Silveira, and F.B. Rizzato Electromagnetic braking: a simple quantitative model,Am. J. Phys. 74, 815 (2006)
[3] Y. Levin and F.B. Rizzato Superconducting pipes and levitating magnets, Phys. Rev.E74, 066605 (2006)