Self-Assembled Fluid Phase Floating Membranes with Tuneable Water Interlayers

We present a reliable method for the fabrication of fluid phase unsaturated bilayers which are readily self-assembled on charged self-assembled monolayer (SAM) surfaces producing high coverage floating supported bilayers where the membrane to surface distance could be controlled with nanometer precision. Vesicle fusion was used to deposit the bilayers onto anionic SAM coated surfaces. Upon assembly the bilayer to SAM solution interlayer thickness was 7-10 Å with evidence suggesting that this layer was present due to SAM hydration repulsion of the bilayer from the surface. This distance could be increased using low concentrations of salts which caused the interlayer thickness to enlarge to ~33 Å. Reducing the salt concentration resulted in a return to a shorter bilayer to surface distance. These accessible and controllable membrane models are well suited to a range of potential applications in biophysical studies, bio-sensors and Nano-technology.