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Measuring bilayer surface energy and curvature in asymmetric droplet interface bilayers

Barlow, Nathan E.; Kusumaatmaja, Halim; Salehi-Reyhani, Ali; Brooks, Nick; Barter, Laura M.C.; Flemming, Anthony J.; Ces, Oscar

Measuring bilayer surface energy and curvature in asymmetric droplet interface bilayers Thumbnail


Nathan E. Barlow

Ali Salehi-Reyhani

Nick Brooks

Laura M.C. Barter

Anthony J. Flemming

Oscar Ces


For the past decade, droplet interface bilayers (DIBs) have had an increased prevalence in biomolecular and biophysical literature. However, much of the underlying physics of these platforms is poorly characterized. To further our understanding of these structures, lipid membrane tension on DIB membranes is measured by analysing the equilibrium shape of asymmetric DIBs. To this end, the morphology of DIBs is explored for the first time using confocal laser scanning fluorescence microscopy. The experimental results confirm that, in accordance with theory, the bilayer interface of a volume-asymmetric DIB is curved towards the smaller droplet and a lipid-asymmetric DIB is curved towards the droplet with the higher monolayer surface tension. Moreover, the DIB shape can be exploited to measure complex bilayer surface energies. In this study, the bilayer surface energy of DIBs composed of lipid mixtures of phosphatidylgylcerol (PG) and phosphatidylcholine are shown to increase linearly with PG concentrations up to 25%. The assumption that DIB bilayer area can be geometrically approximated as a spherical cap base is also tested, and it is discovered that the bilayer curvature is negligible for most practical symmetric or asymmetric DIB systems with respect to bilayer area.


Barlow, N. E., Kusumaatmaja, H., Salehi-Reyhani, A., Brooks, N., Barter, L. M., Flemming, A. J., & Ces, O. (2018). Measuring bilayer surface energy and curvature in asymmetric droplet interface bilayers. Journal of the Royal Society. Interface, 15(148), Article 20180610.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 23, 2018
Online Publication Date Nov 21, 2018
Publication Date Nov 21, 2018
Deposit Date Nov 29, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 29, 2018
Journal Journal of the Royal Society, Interface
Print ISSN 1742-5689
Electronic ISSN 1742-5662
Publisher The Royal Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Issue 148
Article Number 20180610


Published Journal Article (1.3 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
© 2018 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

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