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Langmuir. 2005 Mar 15;21(6):2218-28.

Formation and characterization of phospholipid monolayers spontaneously assembled at interfaces between aqueous phases and thermotropic liquid crystals.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1415 Engineering Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


This paper reports an experimental investigation of the self-assembly of phospholipids (l-alpha-phosphatidylcholine-beta-oleoyl-gamma-palmitoyl (l-POPC), dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine (DPPC), and l-alpha-dilauroyl phosphatidylcholine (l-DLPC)) at interfaces between aqueous phases and the nematic liquid crystal (LC) 4'-pentyl-4-cyanobiphenyl. Stable planar interfaces between the aqueous phases and LCs were created by hosting the LCs within gold grids (square pores with widths of 283 microm and depths of 20 microm). At these interfaces, the presence and lateral organization of the phospholipids leads to interface-driven orientational transitions within the LC. By doping the phospholipids with a fluorescently labeled lipid (Texas Red-1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine (TR-DPPE)), quantitative epifluorescence microscopy revealed the saturation coverage of phospholipid at the interface to be that of a monolayer with an areal density of approximately 49 +/- 8% relative to hydrated lipid bilayers. By adsorbing phospholipids to the aqueous-LC interface from either vesicles or mixed micelles of dodecyltrimethylammonium and phospholipid, control of the areal density of phospholipid from 42 +/- 10 to 102 +/-18% of saturation monolayer coverage was demonstrated. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) experiments performed by using laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM) revealed the lateral mobility of fluorescently labeled DPPE in l-DLPC assembled at the interface with the liquid crystal to be (6 +/- 1) x 10(-12) m(2)/s for densely packed monolayers. Variation of the surface coverage and composition of phospholipid led to changes in lateral diffusivity between (0.2 +/- 0.1) x 10(-12) and (15 +/- 2) x 10(-12) m(2)/s. We also observed the phospholipid-laden interface to be compartmentalized by the gold grid, thus allowing for the creation of patterned arrays of phospholipids at the LC-aqueous interface.

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