Monte-Carlo-simulations of voltage fluctuations in biological membranes in the case of small numbers of transport units
This paper continues our work on the theory of nonequilibrium voltage noise generated by electric transport processes in membranes. Introducing the membrane voltage as a further variable, a system of kinetic equations linearized in voltage is derived by which generally the time-dependent behaviour of charge-transport processes under varying voltage can be discussed. Using these equations, the treatment of voltage noise can be based on the usual master equation approach to steady-state fluctuations of scalar quantities. Thus, a general theoretical approach to nonequilibrium voltage noise is presented, completing our approach to current fluctuations which had been developed some years ago. It is explicitly shown that at equilibrium the approach yields agreement with the Nyquist relation, while at nonequilibrium this relation is not valid. A further general property of voltage noise is the reduction of low-frequency noise with increasing number of transport units as a consequence of the interactions via the electric field. In a second paper, the approach will be applied for a number of special transport mechanisms, such as ionic channels, carriers or electrogenic pumps.