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, S. Scott Saavedra, Craig A. Aspinwall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 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


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