Membrane viscosity is a fundamental property that controls molecular transport and structural rearrangements in lipid membranes. Given its importance in many cell processes, various experimental and computational methods have been developed to measure the membrane viscosity, yet the estimated values depend highly on the method and vary by orders of magnitude. Here we investigate the molecular origins of membrane viscosity by measuring the nanoscale dynamics of the lipid acyl tails using x-ray and neutron spectroscopy techniques. The results show that the membrane viscosity can be estimated from the structural relaxation times of the lipid tails.
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