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Biophys J. 1998 Sep;75(3):1397-1402.

Surface specific kinetics of lipid vesicle adsorption measured with a quartz crystal microbalance.

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  • 1Department of Applied Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden.


We have measured the kinetics of adsorption of small (12.5-nm radius) unilamellar vesicles onto SiO2, oxidized gold, and a self-assembled monolayer of methyl-terminated thiols, using a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM). Simultaneous measurements of the shift in resonant frequency and the change in energy dissipation as a function of time provide a simple way of characterizing the adsorption process. The measured parameters correspond, respectively, to adsorbed mass and to the mechanical properties of the adsorbed layer as it is formed. The adsorption kinetics are surface specific; different surfaces cause monolayer, bilayer, and intact vesicle adsorption. The formation of a lipid bilayer on SiO2 is a two-phase process in which adsorption of a layer of intact vesicles precedes the formation of the bilayer. This is, to our knowledge, the first direct evidence of intact vesicles as a precursor to bilayer formation on a planar substrate. On an oxidized gold surface, the vesicles adsorb intact. The intact adsorption of such small vesicles has not previously been demonstrated. Based on these results, we discuss the capacity of QCM measurements to provide information about the kinetics of formation and the properties of adsorbed layers.

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