, Volume 393, Issue 6-7, pp 1601-1605
Date: 19 Jan 2009

Bilayer lipid membranes from falling droplets

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We describe a system that provides a rapid and simple way of forming suspended lipid bilayers within a microfluidic platform from an aqueous droplet. Bilayer lipid membranes are created in a polymeric device by contacting monolayers formed at a two-phase liquid–liquid interface. Microdroplets, containing membrane proteins, are injected onto an electrode positioned above an aperture machined through a conical cavity that is filled with a lipid–alkane solution. The formation of the BLM depends solely on the device geometry and leads to spontaneous formation of lipid bilayers simply by dispensing droplets of buffer. When an aqueous droplet containing transmembrane proteins or proteoliposomes is injected, straightforward electrophysiology measurements are possible. This method is suitable for incorporation into lab-on-a-chip devices and allows for buffer exchange and electrical measurements.


Bilayer lipid membranes are formed in a polymeric device by injecting water droplets, containing membrane proteins, directly onto an electrode positioned above an aperture machined into a conical cavity, which is initially filled with a lipid-alkane solution. The water droplet slides down the electrode to the aperture at the bottom of the conical reservoir. The geometry of this system enables the spontaneous formation of a BLM. Ion channel activity is recorded between an electrode in the bottom channel and the electrode in the droplet. The technique is scalable and could be configured as a high throughput multi-site biosensing or drug screening platform.