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Control of Membrane Permeability in Air-Stable Droplet Interface Bilayers

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posted on 14.04.2015, 00:00 by Prachya Mruetusatorn, Georgios Polizos, Panos G. Datskos, Graham Taylor, Stephen A. Sarles, Jonathan B. Boreyko, Douglas G. Hayes, C. Patrick Collier
Air-stable droplet interface bilayers (airDIBs) on oil-infused surfaces are versatile model membranes for synthetic biology applications, including biosensing of airborne species. However, airDIBs are subject to evaporation, which can, over time, destabilize them and reduce their useful lifetime compared to traditional DIBs that are fully submerged in oil. Here, we show that the lifetimes of airDIBs can be extended by as much as an order of magnitude by maintaining the temperature just above the dew point. We find that raising the temperature from near the dew point (which was 7 °C at 38.5% relative humidity and 22 °C air temperature) to 20 °C results in the loss of hydrated water molecules from the polar headgroups of the lipid bilayer membrane due to evaporation, resulting in a phase transition with increased disorder. This dehydration transition primarily affects the bilayer electrical resistance by increasing the permeability through an increasingly disordered polar headgroup region of the bilayer. Temperature and relative humidity are conveniently tunable parameters for controlling the stability and composition of airDIB membranes while still allowing for operation in ambient environments.