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T. Heimburg and A. D. Jackson. 2005. On soliton propagation in biomembranes and nerves.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. In press abstract52

The lipids of biological membranes and intact biomembranes display chain melting transitions close to temperatures of physiological interest. During this transition the heat capacity, volume and area compressibilities, and relaxation times all reach maxima. Compressibilities are thus non-linear functions of temperature and pressure in the vicinity of the melting transition, and we show that this feature leads to the possibility of soliton propagation in such membranes. In particular, if the membrane state is above the melting transition, solitons will involve changes in lipid state. We discuss solitons in the context of several striking properties of nerve membranes under the influence of the action potential, including mechanical dislocations and temperature changes.