Suspended phospholipid bilayers: A new biological membrane mimetic

Sophie E. Ayscough, Luke A. Clifton, Maximilian W.A. Skoda, Simon Titmuss*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output


The attractive interaction between a cationic surfactant monolayer at the air–water interface and vesicles, incorporating anionic lipids, is sufficient to drive the adsorption and deformation of the vesicles. Osmotic rupture of the vesicles produces a continuous lipid bilayer beneath the monolayer.

Specular neutron reflectivity has been measured from the surface of a purpose-built laminar flow trough, which allows for rapid adsorption of vesicles, the changes in salt concentration required for osmotic rupture of the adsorbed vesicles into a bilayer, and for neutron contrast variation of the sub-phase without disturbing the monolayer.

The neutron reflectivity profiles measured after vesicle addition are consistent with the adsorption and flattening of the vesicles beneath the monolayer. An increase in the buffer salt concentration results in further flattening and fusion of the adsorbed vesicles, which are ruptured by a subsequent decrease in the salt concentration. This process results in a continuous, high coverage, bilayer suspended 11 Å beneath the monolayer. As the bilayer is not constrained by a solid substrate, this new mimetic is well-suited to studying the structure of lipid bilayers that include transmembrane proteins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1002-1011
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Early online date2 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Suspended phospholipid bilayers: A new biological membrane mimetic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this