The lipid bilayer membrane is crucial to the proper functioning of biological processes. It not only secludes a cell's contents from the surrounding environment, but the membrane itself also serves as a dynamic scaffold for membrane proteins. The lipid membrane's thickness is of nanoscale dimension, thus making it an ideal structure for nano and micro bioengineering applications. Lipid membranes facilitate highly selective control and transport of molecules and ions entering and leaving a cell. As a result, they have great potential for use in applications such as drug screening and biological and chemical sensors (e.g. artificial tongues). Realizing practical sensors based on lipid bilayer membranes will require methods to reliably integrate membranes with microfluidic structures and will require maintaining membrane stability over hours, days, even weeks of use.
Project end date: 01/23/13