European Biophysics Journal

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 265–279

Water near lipid membranes as seen by infrared spectroscopy


DOI: 10.1007/s00249-006-0110-6

Cite this article as:
Binder, H. Eur Biophys J (2007) 36: 265. doi:10.1007/s00249-006-0110-6


The ordering and H-bonding characteristics of the hydration water of the lipid 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoylphosphatidylcholine (POPC) were studied using polarized infrared spectroscopy by varying either the temperature or the relative humidity of the ambient atmosphere of multibilayer samples. The OH-stretching band of lipid-bound water was interpreted by a simplified two-state model of well-structured, low density “network” water and of less-structured dense “multimer” water. The IR-spectroscopic data reflect a rather continuous change of the water properties with increasing distance from the membrane and with changing temperature. Network and multimer water distribute across the whole polar interphase with changing composition and orientation. Upon dehydration the fraction of network water increases from about 30 to 60%, a value which is similar to that in supercooled water at −25°C. The highly ordered gel phase gives rise to an increased fraction of structured network water compared with the liquid crystalline phase. The IR order parameter shows that the water dipoles rearrange from a more parallel towards a more perpendicular orientation with respect to the membrane normal with progressive hydration.


Lipid hydration Water structure Hydrogen bonding Infrared spectroscopy Humidity-titration technique 

Copyright information

© EBSA 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Interdisciplinary Centre for BioinformaticsUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany