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Chemical Transformations in Individual Ultrasmall Biomimetic Containers

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Science  19 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5409, pp. 1892-1895
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5409.1892

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Abstract

Individual phospholipid vesicles, 1 to 5 micrometers in diameter, containing a single reagent or a complete reaction system, were immobilized with an infrared laser optical trap or by adhesion to modified borosilicate glass surfaces. Chemical transformations were initiated either by electroporation or by electrofusion, in each case through application of a short (10-microsecond), intense (20 to 50 kilovolts per centimeter) electric pulse delivered across ultramicroelectrodes. Product formation was monitored by far-field laser fluorescence microscopy. The ultrasmall characteristic of this reaction volume led to rapid diffusional mixing that permits the study of fast chemical kinetics. This technique is also well suited for the study of reaction dynamics of biological molecules within lipid-enclosed nanoenvironments that mimic cell membranes.

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