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Biophys J. 1978 Sep;23(3):337-47.

Formation of "solvent-free" black lipid bilayer membranes from glyceryl monooleate dispersed in squalene.


A simple technique for forming "black" lipid bilayer membranes containing negligible amounts of alkyl solvent is described. The membranes are formed by the method of Mueller et al (Circulation. 1962. 26:1167.) from glyceryl monooleate (GMO) dispersed in squalene. The squalene forms an annulus to satisfy the boundary conditions of the planar bilayer but does not appear to dissolve noticeably in the bilayer itself. The specific geometric capacitance (Cg) of the membranes at 20 degrees C formed by this technique is 0.7771 +/- 0.0048 muF/cm2. Theoretical estimates of Cg for solvent-free bilayers range from 0.75 to 0.81 muF/cm2. Alkane-free GMO bilayers formed from n-octadecane by the solvent freeze-out method of White (Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1974. 356:8) have values of Cg = 0.7903 +/- 0.0013 muF/cm2 at 20.5 degrees C. The agreement between the various values of Cg strongly suggests that the bilayers are free of squalene. DC potentials applied to the bilayers have no detectable effect on the value of Cg, as expected for solvent-free films. The ability to form bilayers essentially free of the solvent used in the forming solution makes it possible to determine the area per molecule of the surface active lipid in the bilayer. The area per molecule of GMO at 20 degrees C is estimated to be 37.9 +/- 0.2 A2.

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