Cellular biophysics is the branch of biophysics that studies cells from the perspective of a physicist or physical chemist by applying physical methods to interrogate cell structure and function, and developing models of cells using physics and physical-chemical principles. The fundamental unit of all biological life is the cell, a mass of biomolecules in watery solution surrounded by a cell membrane. One of the characteristic features of a living cell is that it controls the exchange of electrically charged ions across the cell membrane and therefore the electrical potential of its interior relative to the exterior. The organization and activities of cells are major themes in cellular biophysics, and studies have focused on observing complex structures inside cells, detecting cellular activities, and extending methods developed to study purified biological molecules to microscope-based cellular measurements. Microscopy, which functions across multiple scales of time and spatial resolution, is at the center of these studies. Most cells and tissues have electrical properties relevant to their natural function. Most cells and tissues have rather complex structure, consisting of folding and invaginating membranes and specialized connections and organelles. The localization of electrical properties is particularly important, since each of the complex structures must be expected to have a specific role in the electrical function of the tissue. The structural analysis of electrical properties consists then in the measurements of the electrical properties of the individual components of the tissue or cell.
Cellular Biophysics, Electrical Properties fosters progress and innovations in comprehending the nature of the biophysical mechanisms underlying the control of cellular physiological homeostasis and the consequences of its perturbation. Electrical signals are fundamental to nervous system function. The electrical properties of cells are important in determining how electrical signals spread along plasma membrane. This Advanced Topic explores the electrical characteristics of cell membranes as electrical conductors and insulators. These passive electrical properties arise from the physical properties of the membrane material and from the ion channels in the membrane.
This book will serve as valuable guide for advanced graduate students and researchers dealing with the bioengineering, biophysics, physiology, and neuroscience areas, and will serve as a valued tool for biophysicists as well.