A reusable device for electrochemical applications of hydrogel supported black lipid membranes

Agnieszka Mech-Dorosz, Arto Heiskanen, Sania Bäckström, Mark Perry, Layla Bashir Larsen, Claus Helix Nielsen, Jenny Emnéus

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Black lipid membranes (BLMs) are significant in studies of membrane transport, incorporated proteins/ion transporters, and hence in construction of biosensor devices. Although BLMs provide an accepted mimic of cellular membranes, they are inherently fragile. Techniques are developed to stabilize them, such as hydrogel supports. In this paper, we present a reusable device for studies on hydrogel supported (hs) BLMs. These are formed across an ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) aperture array supported by the hydrogel, which is during in situ polymerization covalently "sandwiched" between the ETFE substrate and a gold electrode microchip, thus allowing direct electrochemical studies with the integrated working electrodes. Using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and contact angle measurements, we demonstrate the optimized chemical modifications of the gold electrode microchips and plasma modification of the ETFE aperture arrays facilitating covalent "sandwiching" of the hydrogel. Both fluorescence microscopy and EIS were used to demonstrate the induced spontaneous thinning of a deposited lipid solution, leading to formation of stabilized hsBLMs on average in 10 min. The determined specific membrane capacitance and resistance were shown to vary in the range 0.31-0.49 mu F/cm2 and 45-65 k Omega cm2, respectively, corresponding to partially solvent containing BLMs with an average life time of 60-80 min. The characterized hsBLM formation and devised equivalent circuit models lead to a schematic model to illustrate lipid molecule distribution in hydrogel-supported apertures. The functionality of stabilized hsBLMs and detection sensitivity of the platform were verified by monitoring the effect of the ion transporter valinomycin.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiomedical Microdevices
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Hydrogel supported black lipid membrane
  • Covalent tethering of hydrogel
  • ETFE aperture array
  • Plasma modification of ETFE
  • Spontaneous thinning of lipid layer
  • Impedance spectroscopy


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