Supported Membranes: Scientific and Practical Applications

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Science  05 Jan 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5245, pp. 43-48
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5245.43


Scientific and practical applications of supported lipid-protein bilayers are described. Membranes can be covalently coupled to or separated from solids by ultrathin layers of water or soft polymer cushions. The latter systems maintain the structural and dynamic properties of free bilayers, forming a class of models of biomembranes that allow the application of a manifold of surface-sensitive techniques. They form versatile models of low-dimensionality complex fluids, which can be used to study interfacial forces and wetting phenomena, and enable the design of phantom cells to explore the interplay of lock-and-key forces (such as receptor-ligand binding) and universal forces for cell adhesion. Practical applications are the design of (highly selective) receptor surfaces of biosensors on electrooptical devices or the biofunctionalization of inorganic solids.

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