Methacrylate Polymer Scaffolding Enhances the Stability of Suspended Lipid Bilayers for Ion Channel Recordings and Biosensor Development

Leonard K. Bright, Christopher A. Baker, Robert Bränström, Steven S Saavedra, Craig A Aspinwall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Black lipid membranes (BLMs) provide a synthetic environment that facilitates measurement of ion channel activity in diverse analytical platforms. The limited electrical, mechanical and temporal stabilities of BLMs pose a significant challenge to development of highly stable measurement platforms. Here, ethylene glycol dimethacrylate (EGDMA) and butyl methacrylate (BMA) were partitioned into BLMs and photopolymerized to create a cross-linked polymer scaffold in the bilayer lamella that dramatically improved BLM stability. The commercially available methacrylate monomers provide a simple, low cost, and broadly accessible approach for preparing highly stabilized BLMs useful for ion channel-functionalized analytical platforms. When prepared on silane-modified glass microapertures, the resulting polymer scaffold-stabilized (PSS)-BLMs exhibited significantly improved lifetimes of 23 ± 9 to 40 ± 14 h and >10-fold increase in mechanical stability, with breakdown potentials >2000 mV attainable, depending on surface modification and polymer cross-link density. Additionally, the polymer scaffold exerted minimal perturbation to membrane electrical integrity as indicated by mean conductance measurements. When gramicidin A and α-hemolysin were reconstituted into PSS-BLMs, the ion channels retained function comparable to conventional BLMs. This approach is a key advance in the formation of stabilized BLMs and should be amenable to a wide range of receptor and ion channel functionalized platforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)955-963
Number of pages9
JournalACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 12 2015


  • black lipid membrane
  • gramicidin
  • ion channel
  • lipid bilayer
  • methacrylate polymer
  • polymer scaffold
  • α-hemolysin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Methacrylate Polymer Scaffolding Enhances the Stability of Suspended Lipid Bilayers for Ion Channel Recordings and Biosensor Development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this