Use of synthetic cell membrane mimics allow simplification and complete control of a complicated system, and incorporation of selected elements under physiological conditions. We are furthering a technology originally developed at NIST using model lipid membranes supported on surfaces for biophysical studies. Hybrid bilayer membranes are simple systems composed of an anchoring molecule to an underlying substrate (e.g. a thiolipid or alkanethiol monolayer) upon which a layer of lipid molecules is supported. The lipid layer of this construct mimics the outer layer of lipid vesicles and allows the incorporation of other cell components to increase complexity to systematically produce more physiologically relevant lipid layers.
Langmuir-Blodgett film deposition allows control over phospholipid layer composition, e.g. lipid mixtures, cholesterol, and other lipid soluble components.
A suite of surface-sensitive, in situ measurement techniques are being developed to assess the structure and function of the lipid membrane with the incorporation of small molecule drugs, nanoparticles, and transmembrane peptides and proteins.