"Biomimetic Membranes in Solution and on Surfaces"
In the Paxton Lab, we are interested in developing synthetic models of cell membranes. We aim to understand, predict, and control their properties for drug delivery applications and biosensing devices. This seminar focuses on our efforts to modulate the properties of synthetic vesicles and control their permeability and how they interact with surfaces. First, I will talk about our strategies for designing synthetic hybrid (lipid/polymer) membranes and what we can do to control the permeability of molecules and ions across them. Our approach involves incorporating ion transfer agents and ion channels, which significantly expedite the dissipation of externally-imposed pH gradients. These strategies to incorporate biofunctional molecules are highly desirable for developing artificial organelles or other synthetic compartmentalized structures requiring control over molecular traffic across biomimetic membranes. I will also discuss ways we use vesicle charge and pH to control how our synthetic membranes interact with nanoparticles and planar surfaces in order to create supported synthetic membranes. Our results indicate that careful control of pH and vesicle charge can result in substantially different types of interactions between hybrid vesicles and hydrophilic surfaces in order to create a range of robust biomimetic surfaces.