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Fabrication of biomimetic lipid membranes

Biomimetics is the imitation of the systems and elements of nature for the purpose of solving technological problems. Merging biomimetic approaches with nanotechnology opens new horizons for the future of nanofabrication.
Fabrication of biomimetic lipid membranes
Dip-pen nanolithography (DPN) is a technique where an atomic force microscope (AFM) tip is used to create patterns directly on substrates with a variety of inks. The technique allows surface patterning on scales that are lower than 100 nanometres. Molecular inks are composed of small molecules that are coated onto a DPN tip and are delivered to the surface through a water meniscus. Liquid inks can be any material that is liquid at deposition conditions.

The objective of the EU-funded DPNLIPIDMEMBRANES (In depth characterization of bio-mimetic lipid membrane structures generated by dip-pen nanolithography) project was to analyse the lipid membrane structure of DPN fabricated phospholipid membranes. Scientists intended to obtain key information allowing the design and fabrication of bio-mimetic structures for biological and biomedical applications.

They showed that the structure of lipid membranes created by DPN was controlled by ink flow rate and surface energy. The flow rate depended on the ink physicochemical properties like viscosity. Using this model, investigators found that growth was controlled by meniscus diffusion at short dwell times and surface diffusion at long dwell times. The critical point for the switch of the regime depended on humidity.

Hydrophobic surfaces promoted lipid rearrangement in the wetting monolayers, which spread over surfaces at different kinetics compared to hydrophilic surfaces. Surfaces with a strong interaction with lipids promoted fast spreading of the lipid ink, generating fabrications with a larger surface. Thus, the diffusive character of the lipids allows the generation of structures with different aspect ratios by tuning their viscosity or the writing at different conditions.

Lipid based DPN is a very attractive tool for fabrication of combinatorial arrays in biological/biomedical systems. The knowledge obtained by the scientists during the DPNLIPIDMEMBRANES project has provided important information for the optimisation and design of new applications of DPN technology.

Related information


Biomimetics, lipid membrane, nanotechnology, dip-pen nanolithography, DPNLIPIDMEMBRANES
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