Droplet immobilization within a polymeric organogel improves lipid bilayer durability and portability

Guru A. Venkatesan, Stephen A. Sarles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The droplet interface bilayer (DIB) is a promising technique for assembling lipid membrane-based materials and devices using water droplets in oil, but it has largely been limited to laboratory environments due to its liquid construction. With a vision to transform this lab-based technique into a more-durable embodiment, we investigate the use of a polymer-based organogel to encapsulate DIBs within a more-solid material matrix to improve their handling and portability. Specifically, a temperature-sensitive organogel formed from hexadecane and poly[styrene-b-(ethylene-co-butylene)-b-styrene] (SEBS) triblock copolymer is used to replace the liquid solvent that surrounds the lipid-coated droplets to establish a novel liquid-in-gel DIB system. Through specific capacitance measurements and single-channel recordings of the pore forming peptide alamethicin, we verify that the structural and functional membrane properties are retained when DIBs are assembled within SEBS organogel. In addition, we demonstrate that organogel encapsulation offers improved handling of droplets and yields DIBs with a near 3× higher bilayer durability, as quantified by the lateral acceleration required to rupture the membrane, compared to liquid-in-liquid DIBs in oil. This encapsulated DIB system provides a barrier against contamination from the environment and offers a new material platform for supporting multilayered DIB-based devices as well as other digital microfluidic systems that feature water droplets in oil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2116-2125
Number of pages10
JournalLab on a chip
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


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