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Proceedings Paper

Study of supported bilayer lipid membranes for use in chemo-electric energy conversion via active proton transport
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Paper Abstract

Bilayer lipid membranes (BLMs) have been studied extensively due to functional and structural similarities to cell membranes, fostering research to understand ion-channel protein functions, measure bilayer mechanical properties, and identify self-assembly mechanisms. BLMs have traditionally been formed across single pores in substrates such as PTFE (Teflon). The incorporation of ion-channel proteins into the lipid bilayer enables the selective transfer of ions and fluid through the BLM. Processes of this nature have led to the measurement of ion current flowing across the lipid membrane and have been used to develop sensors that signal the presence of a particular reactant (glucose, urea, penicillin), improve drug recognition in cells, and develop materials capable of creating chemical energy from light. Recent research at Virginia Tech has shown that the incorporation of proton transporters in a supported BLM formed across an array of pores can convert chemical energy available in the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) into electricity. Experimental results from this work show that the system-named Biocell-is capable of developing 2µW/cm2 of membrane area with 15μl of ATPase. Efforts to increase the power output and conversion efficiency of this process while moving toward a packaged device present a unique engineering problem. The bilayer, as host to the active proton transporters, must therefore be formed evenly across a porous substrate, remain stable and yet fluid-like for protein interaction, and exhibit a large seal resistance. This article presents the ongoing work to characterize the Biocell using impedance analysis. Electrical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) is used to study the effect of adding ATPase proteins to POPS:POPE bilayer lipid membranes and correlate structural changes evident in the impedance data to the energy-conversion capability of various partial and whole Biocell assemblies. The specific membrane resistance of a pure BLM drops from 40-120kΩ•cm2 to only a few hundred Ω•cm2 upon reconstitution of ATPase proteins. Power characterization indicates that ATP hydrolysis may result in charging of the silver-silver chloride electrodes.

Paper Details

Date Published: 11 October 2007
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 6769, Nanosensing: Materials, Devices, and Systems III, 67690N (11 October 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.734001
Show Author Affiliations
Stephen A. Sarles, Virginia Tech (United States)
Vishnu B. Sundaresan, Virginia Tech (United States)
Donald J. Leo, Virginia Tech (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6769:
Nanosensing: Materials, Devices, and Systems III
M. Saif Islam; Achyut K. Dutta, Editor(s)

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