Phospholipid bilayers that mimic cell membranes in living organisms are of interest as substrates for biosensors and for the controlled release of pharmaceuticals. To better understand how these materials behave with embedded proteins, a necessary first step is to understand how the bilayers respond by themselves.
As will be reported in the Dec. 9 issue of Physical Review Letters (published online Nov. 21), scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have studied the phase transition in a supported bilayer and discovered some fundamental properties that could affect the material’s performance in various applications.
"Like water turning into ice, bilayers can exist in either a fluid phase or a solid (gel) phase, depending upon temperature," said Andrew Gewirth, a professor of chemistry. "Using a sensitive atomic force microscope, we studied how the microstructure of these bilayers changed during the transformation process."
James E. Kloeppel | UIUC news bureau
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